David Hawkins: From No-Name to MVP Candidate
By Craig Ellenport July 2, 2018
If he wasn’t already motivated to play here in the BIG3, David Hawkins gets a little extra juice when he and his Tri-State teammates get introduced by the PA announcer before their games.
Six-time all-star Jermaine O’Neal! (crowd goes wild)
Six-time all-star Amar’e Stoudemire! (crowd goes wild)
Three-time slam-dunk champion Nate Robinson! (crowd goes wild)
Number 34, David Hawkins! (Who?)
“I’m the least known here,” Hawkins said Friday night, after he scored a team-high 20 points as Tri-State knocked off the Ball Hogs to improve to 2-0. “When they call my name in the introductions, I get no claps. But by the end of the game I want to be known and that’s my goal – first of all to win and then to get my name out there.”
Hawkins is meeting both of those goals right now. Not only is Tri-State atop the standings, Hawkins has established himself as an early MVP candidate. He was the team’s leading scorer in Week 1 as well, scoring 19 in the huge upset win over defending champ Trilogy. Hawkins is averaging 19.5 points per game, second only to Baron Davis of 3’s Company (22.0). He’s also first in assists (11), fourth in rebounds (15), tied for second in steals (2) and tied for third in 3-pointers (3).
Not bad for a guy who was just a reserve in the BIG3 last season. An all-conference shooting guard at Temple University, Hawkins played professionally in Europe, where he won championships in both Italy and Turkey. He was undrafted last season, but then played three games for 3’s Company and averaged 4.3 points per game in limited action.
What’s been the difference this season?
“Just opportunity,” Hawkins said. “When opportunity meets preparation, then good things can happen. I prepared for this. Last year, I got a little taste of it, but I didn’t get that many minutes. I didn’t play in that many games being a reserve.”
Hawkins’ 2017 experience combined with a strong showing in the pre-draft combine this spring led Tri-State to make him a first-rounder – the fifth overall draft pick this year. But Hawkins wasn’t satisfied.
“It wasn’t enough for me to be drafted, I wanted to be known,” he said. “I want my name out there.”
Hawkins then quoted a line that has been used by BIG3 co-founder Ice Cube from Day 1 of this league: “It’s not your name, it’s your game.”
“All these guys are all-stars, there are some Hall of Famers maybe,” said Hawkins. “But this is the BIG3, it’s not the NBA. I’m just trying to leave my footprint on this league.”
Through two weeks, Tri-State has scored the most points in the league (102) and allowed the least (68). They have a chance to further their case for league supremacy in Week 3 when they face Power, which is also off to a 2-0 start. Hawkins likes his team’s chances.
“I really love our team,” he said. “I think we have a bit of everything. We have two quality big men [O’Neal and Stoudemire]. We have Nate, who’s just a playmaker and a dynamic player. Rob Hite is gonna come out there and make some shots.”
Hawkins also mentioned Bonzi Wells, who had a solid first season in the BIG3 but has been inactive in both games this season. As for his part, Hawkins is happy to follow the game plan and do whatever is needed.
“I’m just gonna try to make things happen,” he said. “We have a bunch of playmakers on this team who can make things happen. When something is working, we go right back to it until they stop it.”
Until someone figures out how to stop Hawkins, more BIG3 fans will start recognizing his name.