Hawkins: A bittersweet adieu

The final team meeting took place on Tuesday at Pearson Hall. Senior guard David Hawkins was nowhere to be found. That’s because the last team meeting of the season was for returning players only. The

The final team meeting took place on Tuesday at Pearson Hall. Senior guard David Hawkins was nowhere to be found.

That’s because the last team meeting of the season was for returning players only. The men’s basketball team will have plenty of experience next season, but Hawkins won’t be there to bail them out.

For the first time in John Chaney’s tenure at Temple, the Owls failed to muster a postseason win. The season came to an unceremonious ending with a first round loss to Rutgers in the National Invitational Tournament last Wednesday.

“I just said to him I was sorry I couldn’t get him any further,” Chaney said.

Hawkins said that after the loss, he needed a couple of days to get over the end of his collegiate career. By Monday he was back in the gym doing individual workouts and preparing for NBA camps. Chaney has been giving him sagely advice on how to approach the camps.

“Making good decisions with the ball, passing, try to get the ball to a big man,” Hawkins said at the Liacouras Center yesterday, “so if they double down on him, he can kick it back out to me. He talked about marrying the big man, developing a relationship with him.”

He is still two semesters shy of graduation and talked about coming back the next couple summers to earn his degree. For now, he will be polishing his game and making periodical visits to his family in Washington, D.C.

When Hawkins arrived at Temple he expected NCAA Tournament bids every year, but after his freshman season the Owls have been relegated to the NIT. He leaves Temple as the school’s third all-time leading scorer with 2,067 points and was just the sixth Owl to hit the 700-point mark in a single season.

To both Chaney and Hawkins the last two years have been disillusioning, but at the same time their relationship has grown. Hawkins has always regarded Chaney as a father figure.

Hawkins will go down as one of Temple’s greatest players, despite playing on mediocre teams. Ironically, he will be in San Antonio during the Final Four to play in an exhibition against the Harlem Globetrotters; Hawkins will play on an all-star team made up of college basketball’s elite players.

Hawkins is also looking forward to achieving his goal of an NBA career. But he said he was uncertain of his draft position.

“Mid-to-late first [round]. It was early second [round] during the year,” he added. “I don’t know, it changes, it started to get better as the year went on.”

When asked if he would rather play in the NBA for the league minimum or go overseas, where he could potentially make two or three times as much money, Hawkins seemed unsure what he would do.

“I would really have to think about that,” he said. “Just not because of me, but my family. If the money was much higher I’d have to make the jump overseas, because that will put me straight down the line.”

He would prefer staying here, since he didn’t like the idea of his family changing “their whole lifestyle because of me.”

As for the problems with Temple’s basketball program, Hawkins couldn’t exactly pinpoint its deficiencies. The Owls have gone 52-45 over the last three years. In addition, player movement has encumbered the team’s synergy.

Last year saw a mass exodus of five players transfer and two graduate. With eight newcomers this season, development was slow. Hawkins said it seemed like the new players were too deferential.

“A lot of people want to come in and play right away,” he said, “but to be forced to do it, that might have something to do with it. It might have been a lot of pressure on them. A lot of my teammates wanted me to win so bad, that they thought I might want to do it myself.

“I guess when you lose, that’s when everybody starts questioning everything. I remember my freshman year we were losing and ended up losing our championship and went to the NCAAs, and everybody forgot about that year. But really, we’ve been having the same years, we just haven’t been winning the A-10 to get to the NCAAs.”

It appears sophomore guard Mardy Collins will now take over the reins. Hawkins always leads the team chant in the huddle before games, but prior to the Rutgers game he told Collins to do it.

“I told Mardy from now [on] it should be him saying it,” Hawkins said. “So I sort of passed the torch to him.”

Jason S. Haslam can be reached at jasonhaslam@yahoo.com.

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