Today's industrious Hawkins contrasts starkly with the indifferent and indolent ninth-grader who quit the team at Chicago's Westinghouse High because he didn't want to rise for 6 a.m. practices. Only a double-team by Hawkins's parents, Hersey Sr. and Laura, prevented him from sleeping his career away. In three seasons of playing center he racked up nice enough numbers but attracted attention only from, he says, "a whole bunch of really small schools."
He chose relatively big-time Bradley, but two years later, in the summer of 1986, the Braves were put on probation (banned from TV and postseason play in '86-87 for recruiting violations, involving neither Hawkins nor any of his teammates), and coach Dick Versace was out. As Bradley looked for a replacement, Hawkins all but decided to transfer to Villanova. "When I came in, he was within an eyelash of being gone," says Albeck, who appealed to Hawkins's NBA ambitions in persuading him to remain in Peoria. "I told him about Ice and Otis and Michael. I promised him we could make him an even better player than he already was." Hawkins stayed, and filed a lawsuit against the NCAA charging that the probation jeopardized Hawkins's potential value in the 1988 NBA draft.
The case was ultimately dropped, but his draft value hasn't. Albeck sees Hawkins being taken among the first 10 picks in the June draft. The Hawk's similarities to 6'4" Sidney Moncrief, Albeck says, are remarkable: the post-up ability, the long legs, the even temper, the unselfishness. And the stamina. "If it gets me to the NBA," says the Hawk, "then I'll keep running."