Hicks could return for UNC against State, Kenny Williams uncertain

Although it appears as though forward Isaiah Hicks might be ready to return from a strained hamstring, guard Kenny Williams could miss Wednesdays rivalry game because of a lower extremity injury

Bob Donnan—X02835
Jan 31

North Carolina’s injured list appears to have a revolving door on it. Just when the Tar Heels got Theo Pinson back from a foot injury that sidelined him for three games, Isaiah Hicks went down with a strained hamstring that kept him from playing at Duke last Thursday. Now that that Hicks looks to be on the verge of returning for Wednesday’s rivalry showdown at NC State, another starter has gone down. UNC reported Tuesday that sophomore guard Kenny Williams has suffered an injury to “his lower right extremity.” His status for the game against the Wolfpack is unknown. That’s the bad news. The good news for coach Roy Williams is that Hicks practiced on Tuesday, providing hope that he’ll be healthy enough to return to the lineup. His status for Wednesday’s game will be a gametime decision. Earlier Tuesday, Williams addressed Hicks’ situation at a press conference in Chapel Hill, saying that his availability will likely depend on well his hamstring responds from Tuesday’s workout. “If he makes it through and has his play to a level where he can do some things, then it’s a medical decision,” Williams said. “It’ll be after practice and maybe even (Wednesday) morning. Hamstrings are something we try not to mess with.”Hicks said he injured himself when his foot slipped, causing him to do a split, after coming down from a dunk during a fastbreak drill. He held out hope of playing on Thursday, doing some stretches during pregame warmups, and said he felt like he was “good to go.” But the training staff and Williams decided against playing him, leading to a difficult night watching from the bench.”As a player, no matter what game it is, you don’t want to miss one,” Hicks said.The Tar Heels’ recent injury epidemic prompted Williams to take it easy on his team since its loss at Duke in hopes of keeping it fresh for the difficult stretch run schedule it has ahead. He gave the team off on Friday, then spent Saturday reviewing tape of the Duke game to “try to show them some things that we did okay and we didn’t okay.” Then on Sunday, UNC practiced without both Hicks and his frontcourt running mate Kennedy Meeks — with the latter sitting out as a precaution. “It’s been unusual,” Williams said. “Part of it has been driven by the injury to Isaiah. Part of it’s been driven by the fact that we’ve kept Kennedy (Meeks) out of practice. It’s been more rest.… We didn’t have Kennedy or Isaiah at practice. I gave them off to try and be the correct program for Isaiah more than anything else. It’s been more rest than anything.” If nothing else, the Tar Heels should be used to playing shorthanded. According to Williams, his team has played only two games all season when it has had all its players available at the same time.