Hickman ranks high on Wendy’s Heisman

Published 8:00 pm Sunday, May 26, 2013

Brookhaven Academy’s Will Hickman perfectly fits the Wendy’s Heisman prototype. He’s outstanding in athletics and academics.

Hickman, the 19-year-old son of Andrew and Karen Hickman, made the most of his senior year. Besides maintaining a 4.0 GPA, he excelled in three sports: football, basketball and tennis, making him a Top 10 Wendy’s Heisman finalist in Mississippi.

For sure, tennis is Hickman’s forte but he helped the BA Cougars capture an MAIS Class AA State Football Championship last November as a wide receiver and defensive back. He returned to the basketball court after a year’s absence and helped the Cougars win a District 5-AA title, finish runners-up in South State and place third in the state tourney.

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In tennis, Hickman waltzed to a No. 1 boys singles title for a sixth straight year. He helped the Cougars win an unprecedented ninth straight state championship.

Hickman posted a 12-1 record in singles this season, his only loss coming at the hands of Jackson Prep’s Robert Mounger. Hickman has been ranked NO. 1 in Mississippi juniors on several occasions.

His all-around skills and intense competitive nature make him a favorite every time he steps on the court. He was a 6-1, 6-2 winner over David McElwain of Oak Hill in the AA championship match.

“I have a good serve and ground strokes,” said Hickman. “Last year (as a junior) I trained really hard.”

His focus on tennis gave him additional time to consider his future in the sport. For a period of time, his No. 1 priority was to play college tennis.

“Then I decided not to play college tennis,” explained Hickman. “It’s more like a job in college. I wanted to play some other sports my senior year.”

At 6-foot-1 and 160 pounds, Hickman made the best of a demanding athletic and academic schedule. Study time often caused late hours after a game in preparation for tests.

Brookhill teaching professional David Misner has been coaching Hickman through six years of varsity tennis. His talent is evident.

“Will truly is a scholar-athlete,” said Misner. “He is a 4.0 in the class room and a 4.0 in tennis.”

Misner praised Hickman’s work ethic.

“When Will first started tennis, he began learning how to defend his side of the court. He knows how to defend his court with tenacity. He has perfected that skill. Offensively, he has a big serve.”

Andrew Hickman works as an assistant football coach at Brookhaven Academy. His younger son, Heath, was a member of BA’s varsity football team as a sophomore last season. The paternal idea of having two sons on the same team became a reality.

“My dad and my brother wanted me to play football,” said Will. “I hadn’t played football since the ninth grade. It was a family effort, with my dad coaching and my brother playing.”

The final reward was wonderful. BA head football coach Tripp McCarty presented the varsity team members with their championship rings during the school’s annual athletic awards banquet earlier this month.

“I had fun playing football,” said Hickman. “The ring looks great.”

McCarty said he was pleased with Hickman’s contributions to the team and appreciated his senior leadership.

Basketball season came bouncing in and several football players were late arrivals. Coach Dale Watts didn’t mind waiting for these athletes to come through the doors of John R. Gray Gymnasium.

It took a while for the football players to develop the basketball mindset but they finished strong. Hickman averaged 10 points and 5 rebounds per game. He made 18 straight free throws in one late-season game.

“The biggest thing about Will Hickman is the fact that he is one of the most competitive guys I’ve ever coached,” said Watts. “It was very difficult for him to come back after a year of laying off. He’s a tough competitor and a very good athlete.”

Watts said Hickman was a key to his team’s late-season run. “Will came out of that slump and made a big turnaround. He led us in scoring the last couple games of the season.”

Hickman received his high school diploma two weeks ago and his future is bright. He ranks fourth academically in a class of 37 seniors. He plans to attend the University of Mississippi and pursue a career in either physical therapy or nursing.