UConn’s Hawkins riding title high to prepare entry
UConn sophomore Jordan Hawkins will enter the 2023 NBA draft and forgo his remaining college eligibility, he informed Malika Andrews on ESPN’s “NBA Today” on Friday.
“Hearing my name contacted draft night will be a true blessing,” Hawkins said. “I worked so hard for this, me and my daddy, we’ve been through a lot.
“When I initial step on school in Storrs, I was a youngster, simply 160 pounds. I didn’t know the college game. Coach [Dan] Hurley threw me into the fire. He guided me through it. It suggests the world for me having him, having this chance. He informed me sophomore year I need to step my game up, make a name for myself. It’s amazing what we did together as a group.”
1 Associated Hawkins, the No. 15 possibility in ESPN’s draft forecasts, was called first-team All-Big East after a breakout season in which he averaged 16.2 points in 29.4 minutes per game and shot 38.8% from 3.
He helped catapult UConn to a national championship with a scintillating run through the NCAA tournament in which he made 21-for-42 3-pointers as the Huskies won all 6 games by double digits. Hawkins had 16 points in the championship game against San Diego State while playing through a stomach bug throughout the Last 4.
“I had the greatest expectations for us as a team,” Hawkins stated. “We had a terrific team returning. Coach Hurley constantly states that the big-time players step up in March. I take a look at myself as a big-time player. I needed to make that jump. My colleagues did the very same thing. We did a hell of a job on both ends. They were fantastic.
“The last few days have actually been outrageous. We returned on campus, the whole school was awaiting us. I have not had much time to sleep. It’s been a crazy 36 hours. It still does not feel real.”
Hawkins has an NBA-ready ability as one of the most prolific shooters in this draft class, revealing elite variety, footwork and body control running off screens, bring up off the dribble or rising behind dribble handoffs with a fast release. He made strides with his defense, passing and shot production this season, areas where scouts wished to see development.
“Shooting is my superpower,” Hawkins said. “There are a lot of ball-dominant guys in the NBA who can develop their own [shot] I can be a knockdown shooter and play a significant role immediately. As time carry on, I can establish and end up being an even larger piece of the rotation, due to the fact that I know I’m more than simply a shooter. There’s more to my game, but I need to show it to individuals.”
Born in Gaithersburg, Maryland, Hawkins was named his state’s Gatorade player of the year as a high school senior at DeMatha Catholic. LSU star Angel Reese is his cousin, and she also won a national championship this week.
“I remember we were kids in D.C., walking around to monoliths, playing basketball at cookouts,” Hawkins stated. “It’s crazy just seeing our household both being in this circumstance. It’s remarkable.”
The NBA draft combine will be held May 15-21 in Chicago, and the draft will be June 22 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.Jonathan Givony is an NBA
draft expert and the creator and co-owner of DraftExpress.com, a personal hunting and analytics service utilized by NBA, NCAA and worldwide groups.