As part of our season wrap-up, we’ll be going through the Rebels’ roster one by one and assigning grades for each player, based on their performance this season. We’ll start with the guys who won’t be back next year, and then work our way up to the returning players in the coming weeks.
Today’s entry is Justin Hawkins, a senior who became a fan favorite in his four years as a Rebel.
REBELS REPORT CARD
Player: Justin Hawkins
Stats: 35 games, 22.4 minutes, 4.9 points, 1.7 assists, 1.4 steals, 32.2 FG%, 25.7 3FG%
Expectations: Because of his experience and versatility, Hawkins was pegged as one of the best “sixth men” in the country before the season started. Coach Dave Rice was counting on Hawkins to be a defensive ace in the backcourt, capable of handling tough individual matchups and also acting as a coach on the floor. There was also hope that an improved 3-point stroke would make Hawkins more of an asset on the offensive end as well.
Performance: Hawkins was dogged by a massive shooting slump during conference play, and he finished the season making just 25.7 percent from 3-point range. Even worse, he managed to hit just 32.2 percent of his shots overall, which made him an offensive liability and limited the amount of minutes Rice could play him. His shooting wasn’t the only part of his game that slumped, however — Hawkins also saw his effectiveness dip at the defensive end as the season went on. He allowed opponents to score 0.825 points per possession and shoot 35.0 percent against him, marks which ranked 10th and ninth on the team, respectively. In the NCAA tournament loss to Cal, when the Rebels could have used all the perimeter defense they could get, Hawkins played just 13 minutes.
Final Grade: C-
In all honesty, this should probably be a D+, or even a straight D. Hawkins was almost unplayable on offense during the second half of the season, losing so much confidence that he missed 23 consecutive 3-pointers over a 13-game stretch. And on the other end, his defense slipped to average and he failed to generate as many turnovers as he had in previous seasons. So a player who was expected to be an elite sixth man and valuable glue guy instead became a spare part off the bench by the end of the year. There was also hope that Hawkins, as a four-year senior, could assume a leadership role on a young team, but he never really stepped up to the plate in that regard. Hawkins avoids a D grade because I give him credit for becoming a big part of the UNLV community and doing good work off the court. Call it a bump for good conduct.
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