Thursday, September 14, 2017

Hawkins To Return To Featured Scorer Role At OSL

Utica’s Jalen Hawkins has now received an offer from Clemson. It’s indicative of how quickly the once obscure recruit has grown over the last several months. 

Having vastly improved his play during the summer, Hawkins went from having minimal interest to being one of the most actively pursued products on the country's mid-major market.

 After tuning up his defensive focus, gaining muscle, and developing as a gritty all-around player, Hawkins received amped up exposure. 

The 6-foot-4 guard earned offers from Iona, UMass, Siena, Stony Brook, and a variety of others while undergoing a significant stock-rising transformation in the summer of 2017.

Hawkins, a 32 PPG scorer at Proctor, spent his senior season competing on a national stage against a handful of traditional talent-laced prep powers.

“My experience at Proctor was great,” said Hawkins, who became Proctor's all-time scoring leader and eclipsed several program records set by one-time Syracuse guard Josh Wright

“As I got older though, people told me to get more exposure I had to get the best competition possible so I decided to go the prep route. My coaches, my teammates, and my teachers, they were all really supportive of my decision.”

Among those coaches was Hawkins' brother, assistant coach Will Hawkins Jr. There was also several close friends and including cousin, teammate Landon Johnson, who expressed more support than disappointment.

 "They were all really showing they had my best interest at heart," Jalen Hawkins said.

"There was no hard feelings. There was no people trying to persuade me to re-think it all. It showed I had the right people in my corner."

Among those in his corner was Wright, a legendary high school player. A talented but mercurial guard, Wright was consistently holding his understudy to a high standard.

He warned him of suspect friends and the risk factor associated with being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"Josh and I had a good relationship, he was at a lot of my high school games," Hawkins said.

"If he thought I wasn't working hard enough or anything like that, he would be the first to tell me. He kept me in the weight room and showed me a lot as far as what it takes to be successful."

The key adjustment for Hawkins, who entered his senior year with 1,010 career points, was incorporating new elements to his all-around game. With that transition became a newfound knack for the defensive catalyst role.

Another major factor was developing a consistent jump shot and becoming more methodical with an array of moves and surges to the rim.

 It was all translatable to a more diversified scoring aptitude, a necessity for a guard known to manufacture points at Hawkins’ pace. 

By becoming more alert as a defender, Hawkins transitioned his identity considerably at The Conrad Academy in Orlando. He took it upon himself to clamp down on the opponent’s best scorer. On a guard-laden team with the lack of a true three-man, Hawkins supplied immediate energy off the bench.

At Our Savior Lutheran in the Bronx, where Hawkins will spend a post-graduate season, he anticipates a much different role.

 He will renew his scoring engine and incorporate the hustle and confrontational defense he discovered as a senior at Conrad.

At Conrad, where he arrived mid-way through the season, the team was led by go-to guards Luguentz Dort (now at Athletes Institute) and David Sloan. Both players were All Orlando Sentinel First Team selections.

“I just feel like it’s my time this year,” said Hawkins.

“I’m ready to make the prep circuit my own and become a scorer and provide big buckets and help lead the way for us this season.”

He’ll have plenty of help with heavily-recruited Class of 2017 guard Jared Rhoden and elite Class of 2020 prospect Posh Alexander.