The greatest basketball player to ever wear a Bradley Braves jersey, 1988 graduate Hersey Hawkins, is now enshrined in the National College Basketball Hall of Fame.
Hawkins is a part of the 2021 class that included many other great players such as Paul Pierce, Antawn Jamison and Jim Jackson. The inductees were honored in Kansas City last week in conjunction with Kansas City’s Hall of Fame Weekend on Nov. 21.
When asked about what the honor meant, apart from mentioning his gratefulness, Hawkins had notable things to say about his career and how it came to be.
“You don’t start off playing basketball in looking for personal awards, but, by the grace of God, going to the right school and having the right coaches and everything falling into place, you end up having a good college career,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins’ number 33 has been retired by Bradley since his departure, one of seven numbers to ever be retired in program history. He was one of the best college players of his time and was a national sensation at the peak of his popularity.
In his four years at Bradley, Hawkins started all 125 games from 1984 to 1988. In those four years, Hawkins scored a total of 3,008 points, an all-time record in Bradley Basketball history and Missouri Valley Conference history as well as 10th all-time in NCAA history.
If you look at a Bradley basketball history book, Hawkins is a name you will see a lot, as he holds 14 records. His last two years at Bradley were his best, as he earned All-American honors both years. He also won the MVC Player of the Year award in his junior and senior years, leading the Braves to two conference championships. In his senior year, Hawkins was the consensus National Player of the Year.
Hawkins reminisced on his memories at Bradley, including a 63-point game at Detroit.
“When you score 63, it’s an unbelievable night and you feel that everything you’re throwing up is going in,” Hawkins said. “I found myself in one of those zones, and the team did a great job of getting me the ball. As I said last night, it was one of those games I sort of regret, because I could have scored 70 or 75 if I would have just shot the ball a little more. I was talking to [fellow inductee] David Greenwood on the bus that I felt guilty during the game that I was shooting so much, so I started passing the ball.”
Hawkins went on to be drafted 7th overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 1988 NBA Draft and enjoyed a 13-year professional career with over 14,000 points scored.
Hersey Hawkins was always considered a college basketball legend. Now, he can be considered a Hall of Famer.