Transfers from Florida bring depth to Bearden

Litza Craig

Most Bearden basketball fans know that there are two transfers on the team, but they may not know much about the two that came from the Orlando area to Knoxville. Junior Robert Moon and Senior Isaiah Hicks both transferred from Florida this summer to play for the Bulldogs. They may both be from the Sunshine State, but they are two totally different people. “I thought that they would be friends since they came from Florida, but they didn’t even know each other,” senior post Davor Saletovic said. “Isaiah is really loud and shows a lot of emotion when he does anything, and Robert is a really laid back, quiet guy.” Hicks is much more quick to speak about anything. Literally anything. “My fourth grade year, I had a cat and I named him Buddy,” Hicks said. “He was a great cat. He would listen to whatever I said, and he was very friendly. They’re furry and cuddly and stuff, and they purr every time you pet them. I mean, I just like cats.” Moon, on the other hand, does not talk as much about cats. “I am very close to my family and I have a lot of friends in a lot of different places; I’ve moved around a lot,” Moon said. Regardless of their differences, Bearden (7-4) is glad to have both of them, especially heading into Friday night’s district rivalry game at West. The clashes between the Bulldogs and Rebels last year were all classics, but Bearden will field an almost entirely different team from the one that bested West in three of four matchups a year ago. The transfers both get minutes off the bench for Bearden and are among the core group that Coach Mark Blevins calls his “starting 11.” Hicks and Moon arrived in Tennessee not knowing anyone, even each other. But once word got out that they both were from Orlando, they found a connection as teammates. “Robert had the same situation as me, but instead he’s a junior,” Hicks said. “We had to get each other’s back because he’s from Florida and I am from Florida, and then everybody started talking to us and asking us questions.” Both boys seem to enjoy Bearden and Knoxville, despite the cultural changes. “It has been a very positive experience; I have learned a lot from Coach Blevins, and just the cultural change,” Moon said. “There is a lot less diversity and a lot more cowboy boots.” Hicks has also noticed some differences. “I think that I made the right decision to come here for my senior year,” he said. “It’s very cold up here, and the people up here in Knoxville are way nicer than in Orlando. I mean people don’t rob your stuff, and you can leave your doors unlocked in your car.” Besides learning how to fit in at Bearden, Moon and Hicks have also been trying to get used to playing with a whole new team, as well as playing for a whole different coach. “It’s been hard to learn the new system,” Moon said, “but Coach Blevins is a great coach and asks a lot. So it’s been a good experience; it’s been tough.” The coaching change, while maybe tough, has been a life changer for Hicks. “Coach Blevins is by far the best coach I’ve ever had,” Hicks said. “Last year I didn’t even know if I was going to get in college, but this year I know, guaranteed, that I will get in college because of the program I am in. … Wherever I can get a scholarship, that’s best because I don’t want my mom to pay a dime for my college.” Coach Blevins is glad to have them and do what he can to get them to a good college. “They are really good guys, and they work hard and try hard,” Coach Blevins. “With experience and getting to know the system a little bit better, they’ll get a little more playing time, but both are quality people.”