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

The 6-foot 3 senior forward on the University of Maine at Farmington men’s basketball team puts his extraordinary vertical leap to good use. He averaged 14.6 points and 7.6 rebounds for the Beavers last season.

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

Hicks, a graduate of Scarborough High School, transferred to Farmington after two seasons at Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire. Hicks averaged 10.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game in two seasons for Colby-Sawyer.

“It was a small private school,” said Hicks, an economics major with a math minor. “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.”

Hicks said he feels more comfortable playing at UMF. He also enjoys the freedom his coaches give him to make decisions on the court.

“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.”

UMF was picked to finish second in the North Atlantic Conference preseason coaches’ poll after going 14-13 overall, 11-7 in the conference last season. UMF earned 54 points in the poll, behind Husson with 64.

The Beavers open their season at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at home against UMaine-Machias.

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

For his part, Hicks wants to become a more consistent shooter from long range. He was 16 of 42 from 3-point range last season.

Meader has high praise for Hicks.

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

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