Going from an elite eight team his freshman year to an inglorious run in the NIT as a sophomore, you can bet junior David Hawkins is anxious to get back to the NCAA’s.
But unlike his first two impressive seasons that were rich in veteran leadership, Hawkins is now the seasoned veteran occupying the role of co-captain, along with senior, Alex Wesby.
“Be more of a leader on and off the court,” said Hawkins of his role this season.
“Show by example for the young fellas, what it is to be a Temple Owl. I just got to step up and show more responsibility.”
And one responsibility that could include is playing point guard, the most critical and onerous position to play under coach John Chaney.
Chaney demands perfection from his point guard, which involves no turnovers, very few shots, and control of game tempo.
A very explosive force, Hawkins has mostly played shooting guard, excelling as a scorer with an unabashed will to drive to the basket.
By the end of last year’s NIT run he gained confidence at point guard after Lynn Greer was saddled with injuries.
“Last year I was very excited about the fact that when Lynn went down at Louisville, he (Hawkins) played three and a half games, where he only had about three turnovers,” Chaney said.
Since arriving to North Broad Street, Hawkins has been a fixture in the Owls lineup.
As a freshman starter for a team that came within a game of the Final Four, he contributed as a situational scorer and defied gravity with emphatic dunks.
Coming into his second year, he was mired in a sophomore slump, academically speaking that is, and had to sit out the first seven games.
While the season turned into a disappointment, Hawkins improved his play considerably in almost all statistical categories, including scoring, assists, rebounds, shot selections and free-throw shooting percentage.
His junior year comes at a time when both Lynn Greer and Kevin Lyde have departed, and with the addition of several new faces.
Mindful of his pride, Hawkins admits that he expects this team to make the NCAA’s and has no desire to be part of two Owls teams devoid a trip to the Big Dance.
“I’m going to come in and do all I can and try and win,” Hawkins said.
“I mean, I don’t need to have to score 25 points, if it’s I need to get more rebounds or get more assists for us to win, then that’s what I’m going to do.”
Hawkins leadership will be paramount in aiding five newcomers, who must get acclimated to the rigors of playing under a domineering force like Chaney.
“He’s a reflection of coach,” said sophomore guard Nile Murry on Hawkins relentless play.
“Coach plays hard, he’s a hard man, but he’s also humble. And that’s basically what Dave is.”
Hawkins understands what the freshmen will be going through: learning a labyrinth defensive scheme that is the matchup zone, playing numerous road games in hostile arenas, and hopefully avoiding the ire of Chaney, which is bound to occur.
“Coach says they can’t be freshman for too long, so they’re going to have to start stepping up, and they can’t use that ‘I’m a freshman’ for an excuse,” Hawkins said.
Last year big things were expected, but they flopped out the gate, and their string of 12 consecutive trips to the NCAA’s was snapped.
Regardless, what will make or break the Owls season is the play of Hawkins and how everyone rallies behind him.
Chaney believes in him and more importantly, he believes in himself.
When asked if he was ready to fill the shoes of Lynn Greer going into this season, he answered unequivocally, “I’m looking forward to it and I’m ready.”
Jason S. Haslam can be reached at email@example.com