Hoops hustlers

U-32 senior Jordan Hawkins drives to the hoop past the defense of Montpelier junior Harris Dzonbic during boys basketball action.

Sometimes the debate surrounding Central Vermont’s top athlete on the basketball court can be as intense as the game itself.

This season the answer was obvious.

U-32’s Jordan Hawkins was already a star at the beginning of the winter. Most games he attracted double- or triple-team attention, and he still found a way to repeatedly reach new heights. Selecting him as the Times Argus Boys Basketball Player of the Year was a mere formality after his immense contributions for the 13-9 Raiders.

The 1,000-point scorer averaged 22 points, six rebounds and three assists per game, shooting 62 percent from the floor. He reached double-figures every game and even his opponents had to respect the talent.

“Jordan’s quickness, strength, speed and finishing ability was incredible,” Montpelier coach Nick Foster said. “He dominated our game and was just tough to stop. I watched him play later in the year and teams made adjustments to take away his transition game. I was really impressed with the way Jordan would go to the glass, rebound and find other ways to help his team and still score.

“It’s his first step and his strength — and he has a knack for going in body-to-body, hip-to-hip. He doesn’t play laterally much. He makes a B-line to the rim, he’s tough to defend and he finishes with contact.”

As a junior, Hawkins averaged 16 points, six rebounds and three assists per game. He opened his senior season with 40 points and six rebounds in a road win against Montpelier.

“Given the rivalry game, in their gym, that one stands out,” U-32 coach Dan Gauthier said. “He set the bar awfully high for himself.”

The Raiders claimed Central Vermont bragging rights convincingly, beating Williamstown, Spaulding, Harwood, Oxbow and Randolph. Hawkins rose to the occasion again on Spaulding’s home court, scoring 30 points en route to capturing Fran Pinard Tournament MVP honors. He erupted for 32 points and 11 rebounds against Oxbow and finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds in a victory over Harwood. Hawkins served as a co-captain and was a team leader in every sense.

“Jordan is a great teammate,” Gauthier said. “Despite all the success and accolades he receives, he is the first guy to celebrate his teammates.”

Hawkins wrapped up his high school career with 1,019 total points. During the night he eclipsed the 1,000-point mark, he recorded 28 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and two steals to eliminate Mount Abraham in Division II playoff action.

“He’s at his best with the ball in his hands in transition,” Gauthier said. “He’s a guy who can get to the basket at will. Jordan is an explosive athlete, and his athleticism allows him to make plays. That, as a coach, I can’t teach.”

Hawkins stayed sharp in the off-season by not having an off-season. He played AAU basketball for Lone Wolf Athletics, traveling across New England and beyond to compete against some of the best players in the nation. That behind-the-scenes work paid off for Hawkins when he stepped onto U-32’s court, and his overall contributions transcend basketball.

“Despite all that Jordan has contributed on the court, he’s had an even greater impact in our school and community,” Gauthier said. “He’s that classic high school sports star. His teachers love having him in the classroom, the younger kids in the community look up to him and want to be just like him some day. That’s a pretty cool feeling for an 18-year-old kid. And what has impressed me most about Jordan over the last five years is that he’s always been such a good-hearted person, which is a testament to his family and how he’s been raised.

“I’ve had the pleasure of coaching a lot of great kids in my time at U-32 and he’s right there at the top with the best of them — on and off the court.”

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