S-C’s top player rides strong finish from South Knox
If a college basketball coach wanted to pursue a prep player with momentum, South Knox’s Justin Fickling was the ideal candidate.
The 6-4 forward signed his Letter of Intent earlier this month to play at Lincoln Trail junior college in Robinson, Ill. The Statesmen, who are in the same Region 24 as Vincennes University, are getting a player who finished his high school career with a flourish.
Fickling broke the Spartans’ single-game scoring record in the regular-season finale, tallying 42 points in a 59-37 win at Wood Memorial in late-February. The following week he had an 18-point fourth quarter in South Knox’s final game, finishing with 30 points as the Spartans narrowly missed upsetting No. 3 Linton, 48-45, in the Class 2A North Knox Sectional final.
Fickling averaged 19.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game for South Knox, earning Sun-Commercial Player of the Year. Now he goes to an improving Lincoln Trail team that sees a fit with the versatile forward. The Statesmen finished fifth in the 11-team region a year ago, going 18-11.
“When I talked to their coach (Luke Stuckey), we had the same views about basketball in terms of how he wants to play. He sees me as a playmaker, dishing the ball, running the floor and being a big help in rebounding.
“Don’t get me wrong, I love scoring. But coach said they have a lot of shooters. If I can drive and kick it out to someone who hits a 3, I’ll give him a high-five.”
Fickling has aspirations to play Division II basketball. He had an offer from Bethel and was looking at Southern Indiana, but the forward said he’s excited about making an immediate contribution as a college player at Lincoln Trail.
“I didn’t have a preference where to play, but I wasn’t too interested in going farther away,” Fickling said. “I’m definitely excited about getting more playing time as a freshman. (Stuckey) said he plays everybody, and I like the junior college style of play. It’s a lot more high paced, and I like running the floor.”
Spartans coach David Burkett said he liked the route Fickling is taking.
“When he was looking at D2 schools, the big thing I told him was that you don’t know how much time you’re going to see your first year,” Burkett said. “Now J’s mindset has totally changed. He’s going to play right away and try to make an impact. He’s encouraged about that.”
Burkett told Stuckey he’s getting a versatile player.
“He can guard 2 through 4 and even some 5s,” Burkett said. “He never had a problem guarding guys 6-6, 6-7. They thought they could handle him because of his size, but he’s so long. He would just blocked their shot.
“You can’t teach length.”
Fickling noted he needed to put on weight. Burkett agreed, suggesting 15 pounds is a good goal.
The forward also said he wants to work on his shooting.
While his stroke was unique, Burkett said Fickling shot a good percentage from outside in high school.