ESPN Chicago | POTW: St. Rita shooting guard Tony Hicks

Scott Powers/ St. Rita coach Gary DeCesare recognized Tony Hicks' potential long before Hicks did.

Upon arriving at St. Rita three years ago, DeCesare saw a player who was blessed with some natural gifts, but needed to put in a lot of work if he wanted to be special.

“I’ve been hard on a lot of kids in my career,” said DeCesare, who was a DePaul assistant coach prior to St. Rita. “I’ve been really hard on Tony. I’ve been on him from Day 1 to the end of the season. I told him he could be one of the best players in the state of Illinois.”

As Hicks now puts it, he “sort of” believed what DeCesare was saying. Hicks wasn’t in love with basketball and wasn’t completely convinced he had that large of an upside, but he was willing to give it a shot and spend the additional time DeCesare thought was necessary to develop his skills.

What Hicks discovered through the process was a passion for the game and that his coach knew exactly what he was talking about. Now in his senior season, Hicks has turned himself into what DeCesare always thought he could be -- one of the Illinois’ premier players.  Read Full Story