University of Maine at Farmington senior center Milani Hicks battles underneath the hoop during practice session at Dearborn Gymnasium in Farmington. (Tony Blasi/Sun Journal)

FARMINGTON — When a basketball bounces off a rim, Milani Hicks has already left the ground to snatch another rebound in midair.

The University of Maine at Farmington 6-foot-3 senior center gives a whole new meaning to vertical lift when he drives to the basket. Gravity doesn’t stand a chance of restraining Hicks, who is anything but earthbound during a basketball game.

The economics major with a math minor showed up at Dearborn Gymnasium after transferring from Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire and was welcomed with open arms by UMF head coach Richard Meader and his assistant, Jim Bessey.

“It was a small private school,” Hicks said. “I didn’t want to be burdened with that debt when I graduated so I transferred to another small public school and it is closer to home. My family wanted to go to a lot of the games and will be able to see a lot more of them.”

Spoken like a devoted son and business major.

Hicks feels much more comfortable playing at UMF than he did at Colby-Sawyer. He is enjoying the freedom of making his own decisions on the court and he appreciates the Beavers’ coaching staff for allowing him to do so.

“I like that positive environment where it is encouragement and not putting someone down,” Hicks said. “I just like playing with all the guys.

“Transferring here, they were very welcoming. I never had a problem getting along with anyone. They were all nice to me. We just need to play as a team … then the sky is the limit.”

But the Scarborough native likes taking care of the tiny tasks that often add up in a big way for the fast-and-furious Beavers.

“We have a lot of players coming here,” Hicks said. “I knew I wanted to do the small things. I didn’t want to take over. Getting rebounds, getting steals, getting those garbage points — just doing the little things.”

Like any conscientious athlete, Hicks knows there is room for improvement to step up his game as well as to help the team.

“I am more of an inside player, but we played against Thomas in the playoffs last year and I was able to hit four 3s,” Hicks, who averaged 14.6 points per game last season, explained. “So this year — if I consistently hit that 3-pointer — that will make our team that much better.”

He believes his perimeter shooting will open up other avenues for his teammates to score points.

Hicks rates the Beavers as a five-star team and believes a conference title is not out of the question for the Beavers.

“I would rate us as 10 out 10. … We don’t have much height, but we are faster than a lot of teams,” Hicks pointed out. “Coach said we have a lot more experience now. We can shoot the ball and defend at all positions.

“There is no reason why we can’t win the North Atlantic Conference and go farther than that. That’s my goal personally, and as a team, we want to go as far as we can, especially since it’s my last season.”

Thanks for dropping in

“First of all, he is bright,” Meader said. “Great personality, wonderful person and a hard worker.

“He is practicing and what we’ve done for scrimmages as far as playing those as if it was his last practice or game.

“He transferred from Colby-Sawyer College after his sophomore year and it has been great for us. He has done a great job for us and filled a huge need and played very well.”

Meader said his quickness and maturity are certainly two of Hicks’ many strengths when he holds court at Dearborn.

“He shoots the ball well,” Meader said. “Excellent slicer to the basket. Defensively, works hard, rebounds the basketball so he provides a lot for us.

“He is a senior and has been to another school. I think the academic portion of it he is solid in and I think he is the type of person you look up to and respect.

“He is just a wonderful person and great competitor and someone you like to have on your team.”

University of Maine at Farmington senior center Milani Hicks dishes off the ball during practice session at Dearborn Gymnasium in Farmington. (Tony Blasi/Sun Journal)

University of Maine at Farmington senior center Milani Hicks smiles during a practice session at Dearborn Gymnasium in Farmington. (Tony Blasi/Sun Journal)

UMF head coach Dick Meader calls the shots next Isaac Witham during practice at Dearborn Gymnasium in Farmington. (Tony Blasi/Sun Journal)

University of Maine at Farmington senior center Milani Hicks goes to the hoop during a practice session at Dearborn Gymnasium in Farmington. (Tony Blasi/Sun Journal)


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