A 6'8" power forward/center, Wicks was a phenom at UCLA, playing on three straight NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championships from 1969 to 1971, the Bruins' star player on the latter two, being named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four in 1970, Helms National Co-Player of the Year (1970) USBWA and Sporting News Player of the Year (1971) and two-time consensus All-American in 1970 and 1971. On Feb 1, 1996, his jersey #35 was retired in a halftime ceremony at UCLA's home court, Pauley Pavilion. Wicks was an 1985 inductee into the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame and in 2010, was selected to the College Basketball Hall of Fame.
Wicks played for the Trail Blazers from 1971 to 1976, earning a total of four selections as an All-Star (1972–1975) and averaging over 20 points per game each of his first four seasons. He holds the Blazer's franchise record for rebounds in a game with 27, and averaged 22.3 points per game and 10.3 rebounds a game in his five years with the team.
In October 1976 he was sold to the Boston Celtics, while Portland went on to win their only NBA championship the next season. Wicks played for the Celtics from 1976 to 1978. Wicks then went to the San Diego Clippers and played there until 1981. Overall, Wicks averaged 16.8 points per game and 8.7 rebounds per game over ten seasons and 760 games. He had four seasons averaging over 20 points per game, and four seasons averaging over 10 rebounds per game, accomplishing both of those feats in the same season three times (1971–72, 1972–73, and 1974–75). His scoring average dropped every year after his rookie season. Following his NBA career he played one season in Italy.
Following his playing career, he lived for a year in Italy before returning to the United States. He served as an assistant coach at UCLA during Walt Hazzard's four years as head coach. Following coaching he entered the real estate field, living in Atlanta, Florida, and Los Angeles.
At 9 a.m. on May 5, 1989, in Mira Mesa, San Diego, California, Wicks was seriously injured in a car accident. He had been driving a 1974 Cadillac and making a left turn through an intersection when a loaded cement truck failed to stop at a red light and struck the driver's side door. Wicks had his ruptured spleen removed at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California. He also had facial lacerations and minor head injuries. Jeffrey Neal Brown, a 34-year old Poway resident, was a passenger in Wicks' car, and suffered a mild concussion and facial injuries. He was also treated at Scripps Memorial Hospital. The cement truck was being driven by 30-year-old Harry Arthur Auman, who was not injured in the crash.