By Kevin McPherson
LITTLE ROCK — He was shooting free throws in between classes today when 2019 Raymond Hawkins (6-10, 230, forward / center, Findlay Prep in Las Vegas, Oakland Soldiers on the Nike EYBL circuit) received a text from Arkansas assistant coach Scotty Thurman.
“Coach (Thurman) sent me a text,” Hawkins explained. “It said, ‘Good afternoon, hope all is well. I wanted to let you know you have an offer from the University of Arkansas.'”
Hawkins, who now holds offers from the Hogs, Mississippi State, DePaul, Kansas State, St. John’s, Nevada, UNLV, and Wyoming, said Thurman has made a big impact on him.
“It makes me happy getting the news from Coach Thurman, he’s really a great guy,” Hawkins said. “He’s the only coach who checks on me every single day. He’s in contact with my Mom, coaches, and me. Just the fact that he offered me like he said it would happen: That he would get to know me first, and that’s what happened.
“Even if I were to pick a different school than Arkansas, I feel like I could still talk to him any time.”
Hawkins said Arkansas, DePaul, and Mississippi State are the three “schools recruiting me the hardest”, adding that “TCU reached out to me today.”
Hawkins, who will sign in the spring period that begins in mid-April, said he has not taken any official visits yet and that he will look at setting up visits after his senior season.
“Our season ends in late February,” Hawkins said. “So, I’ll focus on Findlay Prep until the season is over.”
Hawkins is working his way back from an ankle injury that caused him to miss some recent game time for the Pilots. According to MaxPreps in late December, Hawkins was averaging 15.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.0 blocks while shooting 63.2% from the field.
Hawkins said he is related to former Hog great Marvin Delph of Conway, one of the famed Triplets who joined Sidney Moncrief and Ron Brewer to help the 1977-78 Arkansas Razorbacks to the Final Four in St. Louis.
“I’m very interested (in Arkansas),” said Hawkins in December. “My grandfather was born in Little Rock, and I’ve got family that lives there. I’m building a relationship with (Arkansas assistant coach Scotty) Thurman, it’s an SEC school, their players are gritty, and they have a player there (freshman Reggie Chaney) who played at Findlay.”
Thurman and Arkansas associate head coach Melvin Watkins were on hand Dec. 20 as Hawkins scored 12 points in Findlay Prep’s 72-64 win over Trinity International at the prestigious Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas.
Hawkins is a big-bodied space-eater who is nimble with good ball-handling skill and great instincts around the basket as well as in transition and facing the basket. Some aspects of his size and game are reminiscent of Hog alum Darnell Robinson, who also hailed from the Oakland (CA) area, who was at one time the all-time leading scorer in California at the high school level, and who was rated the nation’s No. 1 prospect by the Sporting News in the class of 1993.
“Yeah,” Hawkins answered in December when asked if Arkansas coaches have told him that he compares favorably to Robinson.
“I’m athletic, I rebound, and I bring a lot of energy,” Hawkins said in December. “I can put the ball on the floor and shoot in the mid-range. I’m very active, a leader.”
Front court and small forward / wing prospects have been the main focus of the Arkansas coaches as they continue to recruit the class of 2019.
The Hogs also have an offer out to ’19 Doudou Gueye (6-9, 220, sophomore forward, Daytona State College juco in Florida) — a player that Hog coaches have watched play in person at least a couple of times. Gueye recently had a double-double: 19 points and 13 rebounds to go with 2 assists in Daytona State College’s win on Saturday. Gueye, who also holds offers from Texas Tech, Ole Miss, Seton Hall, and others, is averaging 21.8 minutes, 11.1 points (on 52.7% field goals, including 38.6% from 3), 6.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.3 steals. Additionally, Arkansas has an offer out to ’19 Javon Franklin (6-7 combo forward, Holmes, MS, Community College via Little Rock Parkview), who is redshirting with a broken leg and will have three years of playing eligibility at the NCAA Division 1 level beginning in ’19-20. Franklin intends to take an official visit to Arkansas in January or February.
Arkansas has also been evaluating at least four other frontline prospects in the ’19 class — Dischon Thomas (6-9, 230, power forward / center, Hillcrest Prep in Phoenix), Mahamadou Diawara (6-10, 220, forward/center, Massanutten Military Academy in Virginia, native of Mali, ESPN 4-star prospect), Jalyn McCreary (6-8 forward, Legacy Early College High School in South Carolina), and Demontay Dixon (a freshman qualifier at Walters State Community College in Tennessee). Watkins and Thurman saw Thomas play at the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas on Dec. 20. Arkansas assistant coach T.J. Cleveland has traveled to watch both McCreary and Dixon play, and Watkins is the lead recruiter for Diawara and plans to watch him in action soon.
Arkansas signed one player during the mid-November early period — Justice Hill (5-11 point guard, Little Rock Christian Academy), who joined the Razorbacks on Wednesday, Jan. 2, as an early enrollee.
Linked below are recent highlight reels of Hawkins …
“Check out ’19 Arkansas recruit Raymond Hawkins @raymondhawkiins (6-10 F/C, Findlay Prep via Oakland, CA) in action Thurs night at Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas w/Hog coaches watching … Hawkins holds offers from Kansas St, St. John’s, DePaul, Nevada, UNLV, Wyoming, & others … https://t.co/j5yEmFIRuq”
Check out http://simplybasketballHQ.com for all NorCal Basketball Content Ray holds offers from Kansas St, Colorado, Colorado St, LMU, Fairfield, and Howard Thank you SS Visual Works: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSBh79OD3VHpAJAoz0rNKdg https://twitter.com/ssvisualworks https://www.instagram.com/ssvisualworks/ Follow us for more: https …