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College Basketball : Hersey Hawkins Was a Diamond in Pivot

December 26, 1987|Robyn Norwood

Just what coaches throughout the country knew of Hersey Hawkins when he was a senior at Chicago's Westinghouse High School is evident by the names of the schools that recruited him: Illinois State, Northern Illinois, Colorado and Bradley.

Now a guard, Hawkins spent his high school career as a 6-foot 3-inch center who drew the position because he was his team's best leaper. He was not exactly a center of attention.

"He got his quiet 23 (points). People didn't notice him," recalls Anthony Manuel, now Hawkins' teammate, but an opponent when the two played high school ball in Chicago.

Or, as Stan Albeck, the Bradley and former Chicago Bull coach, puts it when asked where Hawkins ranked as a high school senior: "Top 100? He wasn't in the top 1,000 . . . the top 2,000."

From his myriad options, Hawkins chose Bradley. Four years later, his 41.0 scoring average is the nation's best. His season low is 32, against Evansville. Against UC Irvine last Saturday, he set a school record with a 51-point performance in a 139-119 Bradley victory.

Among Hawkins' abilities that left Irvine gasping: His quick-release shot.

"The guy only needs one inch to get off a shot," Irvine's Wayne Engelstad said.

Hawkins scored his 51 points in 30 minutes of playing time. He scored 16 points in the first 6 minutes, a pace that would have given him a 100-point plus game.

Nearly a dozen pro scouts attended Bradley's opener against the University of New Orleans, and Albeck calls him a possible top-10 pick in the NBA draft.

As a freshman, Hawkins averaged 14.6 points a game. The next season, his average increased to 18.7. Last season, Hawkins averaged 27.2.

If he maintains a 40-point average, he will become the first player to do so since Johnny Neumann of Mississippi finished with a 40.1 average in 1971.

Frank McGuire, the coach who built two national powerhouses in the Atlantic Coast Conference and who can count Dean Smith, Al McGuire, Lou Carnesecca, Billy Cunningham, Doug Moe, Larry Brown and Bobby Cremins among his proteges, lost his house in Columbia, S.C.--and, more sadly, the memorabilia of his career--in a fire last week.

"All we escaped with were the clothes on our backs," McGuire, 74, whose hair was singed by the heat, told The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper. "We're lucky to be here. I was running for my life."

A gas leak reportedly was the cause of the fire, which destroyed his $200,000 four-bedroom home. Also lost in the blaze: Photographs, news clippings, hundreds of trophies--including those of the 1957 North Carolina NCAA championship team--and a baseball signed by Babe Ruth.

Incredibly, McGuire may have many of these mementos replaced. Herman Helms, longtime columnist at The State, is leading an effort seeking the donations of memorabilia. Already, the response has been so enormous that Helms said the paper is having a hard time finding a place to keep it all.

"He's going to have a bigger collection than he did the other time," Helms said. "We've gotten plaques, photographs. magazines, scrap books. The only thing we have not been getting, obviously, is the trophies, but (Jane McGuire, Frank's wife) is making an inventory from memory and we're going to replace any we can. Already we've had calls from companies who remember making the trophies."

McGuire began his coaching career at St. John's in 1948. After five seasons, he left for North Carolina, where his team won the national championship in 1957. In 1962, McGuire coached the Philadelphia Warriors. McGuire guided South Carolina for 16 seasons, from 1964 to 1979, during which time the Gamecocks, then a member of the ACC, were several times ranked as the top team in the nation, although they never won a national title.

Rambling Grambling: The Tigers' first home game will be Jan. 9, against Southern University. By that time, though, Grambling, which is off to a 1-4 start, will have played 12 games on the road. The Tigers opened with a victory at St. Louis, then lost at Wichita State, Auburn, New Mexico and Michigan. Tonight, the Tigers take on Texas Christian. That game, of course, will be in Fort Worth.

Before their home opener, the Tigers still have to travel to the First Tulsa Tournament, Minnesota, Sam Houston State, Nebraska and Iowa State.

Grambling also played a difficult nonconference schedule last season, but it included some home games. The Tigers started off 1-9 but finished 16-14 and won the Southwestern Athletic Conference regular-season title.

Marist, which is located in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and toils in the shadow of the Big East, seemed as if it had found a way to success last season when the Red Foxes earned their second straight NCAA tournament berth with a lineup that included three foreign-born players.

It looked like the best was to come, with all three due back.

But it hasn't turned out that way.

First, junior forward Peter Krasovec (9.6 average) learned he could no longer delay a two-year military commitment in his native Hungary. Anticipating the loss, Coach Dave Magarity had recruited five community college players. to replace Krasovec's 9.6 points per game.

This summer, 6-11 junior forward Miroslav Pecarski also left, opting to stay home in preparation for a tryout with the 1988 Yugoslavian Olympic team. The loss of Pecarski, who averaged 12.4 as a sophomore, was unexpected.

The final stroke came when the NCAA slapped Marist with a two-year ban from postseason play for a series of violations during the five-month coaching tenure of Mike Perry in 1984. Marist coaches bought clothes, meals and airline transportation for foreign athletes on several occasions in 1984, according to the NCAA.

One of the foreign trio remains. Rik Smits of the Netherlands, a 7-3 center, decided to spurn the National Basketball Assn. draft and stay for his senior year.

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