Anthony Hickey’s transfer to Oklahoma State cleared its final hurdle Monday, with the NCAA granting Hickey’s waiver to become immediately eligible for the Cowboys for his final season.
Hickey, a three-year starter at LSU, becomes the favorite to start at the point for OSU next season, filling a void created by the loss of Marcus Smart and Markel Brown.
Hickey’s addition boosts the Cowboys’ lineup, and in time for a premium non-conference matchup: against Missouri at the Sprint Center in Kansas City on Dec. 30. OSU’s non-conference schedule has yet to be released, but the game against the Tigers is believed to be the feature game before Big 12 play begins.
The matchup was also revealed Monday, a big news day for the Cowboys, led by Hickey’s availability.
“Anthony brings us great experience and a lot of versatility at the guard position,” OSU coach Travis Ford said in a release. “He’s someone who has competed and played at the highest level in the SEC.
“He could be a game-changer defensively with his quickness, and is one of the top steal guys in the country, so we really expect him to enhance our defense. He will bring great energy on the court, and is a fierce competitor.”
Hickey had fallen out of favor with LSU coach Johnny Jones, who told the player his spot on the team was no longer available, leading him to leave the program. LSU signed off on Hickey’s full release and the NCAA’s waiver completed the move to OSU, where he had already enrolled.
A 5-foot-11 guard, Hickey averaged 9.4 points and 3.8 assists in his three seasons with the Tigers. As a junior last season, he averaged 8.4 points, 3.7 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals while starting 31 games. And his 2.6 assist-to-turnover ratio in conference play led the SEC.
Hickey’s best game of the season came in an overtime loss at No. 18 Kentucky when he scored 20 points, dished out eight assists, grabbed five rebounds and had just one turnover in 44 minutes. He matched that season high with 20 points against Memphis in the Old Spice Classic.
As a sophomore, he was second on the squad with his 11.2 points per game, and led the team with 3.8 assists per contest. He scored a career-high 22 points at Missouri, firing in six 3-pointers. As a freshman in 2011-12, he averaged 8.9 points, 3.8 assists and 3.6 rebounds per contest, starting 31 of 33 games.
A native of Hopkinsville, Ky., Hickey graduated from Christian County High School. He was named Mr. Basketball in the state of Kentucky in 2011, leading his team to the Class 5A state championship. He recorded 17 points and 12 assists in the title game.
Hickey provides experience to a point guard spot that previously projected junior college transfer Jeff Newberry and incoming freshman Tyree Griffin as competitors for the starting job.
The game against Mizzou gives the Cowboys two dates with SEC foes. They also play at South Carolina on Dec. 6 as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
The matchup with the Tigers renews an old rivalry that dates back to the Big Eight and carried into the Big 12, before Missouri’s departure for the SEC. Mizzou will be in its first season under coach Kim Anderson, a former standout at the school who coached Central Missouri to the 2014 NCAA Division II national championship.
“We are looking forward to playing Missouri at the Sprint Center in Kansas City,” Ford said. “Oklahoma State has a long-standing history with the Tigers, having been conference rivals for more than half a century. We’ve had some thrilling games with Mizzou the past several seasons.
“It is also exciting to play an early season game in the same venue that hosts the Big 12 Championship. OSU has a lot of alumni and fans in the Kansas City area, and we hope this gives them an opportunity to catch the Cowboys in person. I have a great deal of respect for Coach Anderson, and think he’ll continue the great tradition that they have at Missouri.”
Said Anderson: “What a special game for the fans and former players of both universities. I remember playing Oklahoma State in Kansas City twice while I was in school and those were two great games. Our two universities share great history with one another and conference affiliation isn’t going to change that fact.
“Obviously KC is very special to us and plays a major part in who we are as a university and as a basketball program. We have tremendous fans in the city and they know how committed we are to bringing Mizzou Basketball to the Sprint Center as often as possible.”
The Tigers return two starters in Johnathan Williams and Ryan Rosburg from a team that finished 23-12 and made the second round of the NIT.