What Happened to Underrated NBA Star Hersey Hawkins?
While Hersey Hawkins may never be considered one of the all-time greats in the NBA, he at least deserves to be recognized as one of the greatest scorers in college basketball history. And, honestly, if you look at his pro career, which included an All-Star season with the Philadelphia 76ers alongside Charles Barkley, it truly is underrated.
So let’s take a quick look back at the career of Hersey Hawkins and find out what he’s up to these days.
Hersey Hawkins was a scoring machine at Bradley
Upon graduation from Chicago Westinghouse in 1984, Hersey Hawkins enrolled at Bradley University, where he joined a lineup that would eventually send four players to the NBA. In his freshman season, he was second on the team in scoring, averaging 14.6 points. His sophomore year, he led the Braves to a 32-3 record, including a perfect 16-0 mark in the Missouri Valley Conference, averaging 18.7 points and had Bradley ranked as high as seventh in the country. Unfortunately, they were knocked out in the NCAA Tournament by eventual champion Louisville.
In 1986-1987, the three-point line was universally implemented in college basketball and Hersey Hawkins took full advantage. He upped his scoring average to 27.2 points per game, good for fifth in the nation that season. He was somehow even better his senior season, leading the country in scoring with a phenomenal 36.3 points per game, again leading the Braves to the NCAA Tournament. Hawkins was named a Consensus First-Team All-American and also won numerous player of the year awards, essentially splitting the top honors with Kansas star Danny Manning.
Hawkins ended his college career in 1988 as the fourth-leading scorer in Division I history with 3,008 career points and still remains 10th on the list. Imagine if he had had the three-point line for those first two years. He was expected to be a major threat for the Olympic team in Seoul but sustained an injury that kept him out of action for the majority of the Games.
He had an extremely underrated NBA career
Upon graduation from Bradley, Hersey Hawkins was selected sixth overall in the 1988 NBA draft by the LA Clippers but was immediately traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, where he spent his first five NBA seasons. He was named to the All-Rookie First Team in 1989, averaging 15.1 points. He upped his scoring average his second season to 18.5 points per game, second on the team behind Charles Barkley. He averaged a career-high 22.1 points per contest his third year, earning his first and only NBA All-Star selection. He averaged 19 points the following year and led the team in scoring with 20.3 points per game in 1992-1993 after Barkley was traded to the Phoenix Suns.
In rebuilding mode, Philly shipped Hawkins to the Charlotte Hornets in 1993, where he spent two seasons and averaged just over 14 points per game as the third (sometimes fourth) option behind Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning. He was traded to Seattle ahead of the 1995-1996 season for Kendall Gill and was a key role player in helping the Sonics to the NBA Finals, where they lost to Michael Jordan’s 72-10 Chicago Bulls.
Following two more seasons in Seattle, he spent one season in his hometown with the Bulls in 1999-2000 and played one more season in Charlotte before retiring in 2001. In 983 career NBA games, Hersey Hawkins scored 14,470 points, good for 162nd on the all-time scoring list, just one spot behind Bill Russell and ahead of Hall of Famers such as Nate Thurmond, Alonzo Mourning, Jerry Lucas, and David Thompson, as well as other notable names such as Manu Ginobli, Ron Harper, Bill Laimbeer, and the man he was so closely associated with in his college days, Danny Manning. He also ranks 66th on the all-time three-point list with 1,226.
Where is Hersey Hawkins today?
With his playing days behind him, Hersey Hawkins remained in the game, serving as a TV analyst for NCAA and NBA broadcasts and was also an assistant coach for his son’s high school team in Arizona. Corey Hawkins would go on to become the Big West Player of the Year for UC Davis and spent time in the D-League before playing overseas. Hersey and Corey Hawkins combined to score 4,687 points in college basketball, the second-most for a father-son duo behind only Dell and Steph Curry.
Hersey Hawkins currently serves as the Player Progams Director for the Portland Trailblazers, a position he’s held since 2009.
*All stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference