UCF redshirt sophomore and Altamonte Springs native D.J. Hicks has been named by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association as one of 36 national semifinalists for the 2011 Dick Howser Trophy, which is given to the top player in collegiate baseball. It is the second-straight season the Knights have had a representative on the prestigious list after Chris Duffy was honored in 2010.
“This is a very well-deserved honor for D.J. He’s had an All-American type season for us,” said head coach Terry Rooney. “What makes this recognition even greater is the adversity he went through last year with his injury, and bouncing back to put together the kind of year he has had. He is a great leader both on and off the field for our baseball program.”
UCF is one of just seven programs in the country (UCF, Texas, Virginia, Utah, Florida State, Coastal Carolina, Rice) to have a Dick Howser Trophy Semifinalist in each of the past two years.
The NCBWA released the 36-player list in conjunction with the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce and the College Baseball Foundation. The membership of the NCBWA will choose the Dick Howser Trophy winner based on two rounds of national voting. This year’s 25th anniversary of the Dick Howser Trophy presented by Easton Foundations will be made even more special by the awarding of this year’s honor at TD Ameritrade Stadium in downtown Omaha, the new home of the College World Series. The award will be presented on Tuesday, June 21, at 11 a.m. prior to the fourth day of the 2011 CWS.
Hicks was one of three student-athletes from Conference USA to be selected Friday, joining Memphis’ Chad Zurcher and Rice’s Anthony Rendon. The Dick Howser Trophy is given in memory of the former Florida State University All-America shortstop and major league player and manager who died of brain cancer in 1987. It is regarded by many as college baseball’s most prestigious award. Criteria for consideration for the trophy include performance on the field, leadership, moral character and courage, qualities that were exemplified by Dick Howser’s life.
A graduate of Lake Brantley High School, Hicks leads UCF with a .350 average, 57 RBI, a .604 slugging percentage, 22 multi-hit games and 15 multi-RBI games. The designated hitter also has 35 runs, 11 doubles, 13 homers and a .436 on-base percentage.
Hicks ranks first in C-USA in slugging and RBI, second in home runs and total bases and fourth in batting average. Nationally, he sits in 31st in RBI and 32nd in round-trippers.
His best performance was during a 4-1 week April 19-24 for the Knights as Hicks was selected as a Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week and the C-USA Hitter of the Week. The DH went 10-for-21 with three home runs, 13 RBI, two doubles and seven runs against Florida Atlantic, Florida and three contests at Memphis.
In 2009, Hicks was named to the C-USA All-Freshman Team by going .301 at the plate with eight homers and 32 RBI. However an injury limited his role to just six games in 2010 before he earned a medical redshirt. After recovering prior to 2011, Hicks now has a .318 career average with 21 doubles, 21 home runs and 92 RBI.
Hicks is busy guiding the Knights in their drive towards the postseason, and the Black and Gold is back on the field Friday in game two vs. Marshall at 6:30 p.m. The regular season concludes Saturday with Senior Day against the Thundering Herd with first pitch slated for noon.