Every high school basketball coach probably wants to have at least one. They are integral pieces to any team with championship aspirations.
No, not Division I prospects.
We're talking about role players. Monday afternoon against host Ben Franklin, Mastery Charter North junior Kareem Hicks played his part as the Pumas pummeled the Electrons, 78-47, in Public League Division B action.
Bowling Green-bound senior Daeqwon Plowden led all scorers with 17 points. The 6-foot-6 forward also added game highs in rebounds with nine and steals with four.
Hicks, a 6-2, 240-pound forward who attended Philadelphia Electrical and Technology Charter last season, added seven points, three rebounds, a steal, and an unselfish attitude off the bench.
"He gets on the floor, he rebounds and he's never fussing about any playing time, any shots or anything," said Mastery North coach Terrence "Nip" Cook. "He's just happy to be among the guys, and they all get along really well."
Perhaps that's because Hicks didn't play high school basketball at all last season after PET cut all sports in September because of financial difficulties.
"I was very disappointed," Hicks said. "It was bad. It was bad."
Hicks said he stayed in shape by playing AAU basketball for the Big Dream Bearcats where current Mastery North assistant coach Gerald "Snook" Johnson coached.
The team was comprised of kids who didn't make varsity teams or didn't make it on the most prominent AAU teams. The result was an eager new player for the Pumas who Cook said is at practice every day and is always 20-30 minutes early.
"I'm excited to play for Mastery because I didn't play at all 10th-grade year," Hicks said. "I like the environment. I like the teachers, the school, the coaches and the team."
Monday afternoon, the Pumas (14-0, 6-0) jumped out to a 24-8 lead with 5 minutes, 22 seconds left in the second quarter.
Plowden punctuated the half with a fastbreak dunk that led to a 38-20 halftime edge. Eli Alvin finished with 13 points, while Rodney Phillips added 13 more on 3-of-4 shooting from behind the three-point line.
As a team, the Pumas shot 9 of 17 from three. Aaron Whaley led Franklin (4-6, 2-4) with 14 points.
Hicks finished 3 of 3 from the field and scored mostly off screen-and-roll action, diving to the basket and finishing in traffic.
"I like my role because we already have stars, so plenty of teams already know them, but they don't know me," Hicks said. "It gives me a chance to score and rebound the ball and have a good game."
Mastery North 16 22 16 24 - 78
Ben Franklin 5 15 19 8 - 47
MN: Daeqwon Plowden 17, Eli Alvin 13, Rodney Phillips 13, Rahmir Moore 8, Harold Daily 6, Romel Minor 3, Kareem Hicks 7, Jamir Reed 7, Eric Spann 4.
BF: Marquise Foxworth 3, Shymaire Tyson 5, Quideer Chandler 7, Aaron Whaley 14, Asharr Knight 4, Mikal Davis 12, Raheem Davis 2.