Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas


February 17, 2013

Navarro Hoops: Hawkins is Compton Cool

Runnin' Bulldogs' starting point guard has risen to leadership role

Corsicana — Harrison Hawkins gathered plenty of important life lessons growing up in Compton, Calif., one of the most famous cities in metropolitan Los Angeles and home of five current NBA players and some of the best hip hop music in the world, N.W.A. being the most world renowned.

Among the credos — keep your head up, be aware of things, understand where you’re from and know you have to represent southeast L.A.  

And don’t take anything for granted. That last one, you’ll never see Hawkins disregard.

Hawkins has risen from the end of the bench last season as a freshman to the leader of the Navarro Runnin’ Bulldogs. Navarro’s starting point guard has been their most consistent scorer since the calendar turned to 2013. The 5-foot-10 Hawkins has led Navarro in scoring in five of the last seven games, including a 17-point game in Wednesday’s 79-54 victory over Panola.

Hawkins will be counted on again to score — especially from behind the 3-point arc — when Navarro (22-5, 14-2) plays Kilgore at 4 p.m. Saturday in Kilgore. Navarro can clinch the conference title and an automatic berth to the NJCAA National Tournament next month, and Hawkins has been as big as reason as any why the Runnin' Bulldogs are in this position.

“He’s playing well,” Navarro coach Johnny Estelle said. “That’s what I expect from Harrison.”

The Bulldogs are trying to finish off the Region XIV regular season title with a two-game lead on second-place Kilgore with four games left to go. A victory Saturday over Bossier Parish means Navarro could clinch the regular season title next Saturday at Kilgore.

Hawkins’ rise this season hasn’t been a complete shock — assistant coach Eric Colbert believed he had a potential quality player when he recruited Hawkins out of Compton Centennial High School.  But coming off last season, when Hawkins watched as fellow freshmen Johnathan Benn and Keith Smith hogged most of the point guard playing time, he knew he had to work hard and prove himself to Estelle and Colbert.

 “Not playing much gave me my drive when I worked out before this season to become better and become mentally stronger,” Hawkins said “I wanted to become the best that I can be.”


Hawkins was in a workout with Centennial alum and Orlando Magic guard Aaron Afflalo — Hawkins’ high school coach, Vadim Malikin, trains NBA players — when Colbert saw Navarro’s future point guard for the first time.

Hawkins recalls Colbert almost missed seeing him workout because of a missed phone call from Centennial assistant coach Wendell Westbrook. Colbert played for Wendell Westbrook at Compton College and his former coach had told him about Hawkins.

“Harrison went so hard,” Colbert said of that day. “He was really talkative, especially for a high school kid. And he was competing. He was trying to show what he could do.”

Hawkins was recruited by some Division II schools — he had qualified academically — but those colleges backed off of him. Navarro swooped in, continuing Colbert’s “Cali Pipeline” that has produced seven Bulldogs in five years, five of them going on to play at four-year colleges.

“(Colbert) sold me on having a chance to play great basketball and getting a good education,” Hawkins said. “I had to take advantage of that opportunity.”

Hawkins redshirted for a semester after high school, then played for the Bulldogs last season. He got some minutes last season, but as Navarro won the regional title and made it to the NJCAA National Tournament, it was Benn and Smith that were two of the biggest catalysts for the Bulldogs.

Hawkins went into this offseason knowing he had to earn playing time by training diligently and focusing on the mental side of the game.

A year older than Smith, his teammate at Centennial, he had played in front of him in high school. Now he was watching Smith, a speedy player on the court, standing out for Navarro.  

“They grew up together,” Colbert said. “It was hard on H. But it raised his level of maturity.”


Hawkins has made his own breaks, and caught a few, this season.

Smith is unable to play and hopes to return to Navarro next year. He’s a spectator at most Bulldog games.

Meanwhile, Benn has been hobbled by a foot injury. He’s still a vital part of the team and made an acrobatic layup Wednesday night against Panola, but Harrison has taken over the starter’s minutes at point guard.

Harrison has flourished. He’s made four-game winning shots, including a 3-pointer Saturday in overtime against Paris. It was Harrison’s only 3 of the game — he had made just 1 of 9 shots and was 0-for-5 from behind the arc before swishing a baseline shot. The play was put in for him by Estelle that week during practice.

Harrison is averaging 8.1 points per game, second behind guard Princeton Onwas (11.4 ppg). Harrison is making a team-best 39 percent of his 3-pointers. He leads the Bulldogs with 55 steals. He has superb assist-to-turnover ratio (2.4-to-1).

“His game is smooth as silk,” Colbert said. “He’s solid. He does all of the little things to help you win.”

Hawkins’ 3-point shooting percentage is tell-tale sign of Hawkins’ improvement. Colbert said Hawkins has learned when to shoot the basketball. He knows his spots behind the arc.

Hawkins takes mostly open 3s. Take good shots and Estelle will play you.

“My game has improved a lot as far as shot selection, especially,” Hawkins said. “That’s helped out as far as my shooting percentage.”

Then there’s the mental part of basketball. Estelle determines playing time more on that than physical ability. Hawkins has figured out what it takes to make it at Navarro.

“He understands the system,” Estelle said. “He understands the Navarro brand. He’s been up the ladder and down the ladder. I trust him. He’ll run through a wall for us.”


It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Hawkins can learn on his own and from teaching.

He’s a self-taught pianist. His father, Kyles Hawkins, played the guitar in a gospel band when Harrison was growing up. He observed and taught himself how to play.

He had to do so to find a way to perform with his dad and cousins. Hawkins can play gospel and jazz music.

“I learned on my own through my ear and being around music all my life,” Hawkins said. “It just happened to work out.”

He’s taken his willingness to learn, and his toughness on the court and turned into a starter for Navarro.

“He’s arguably the toughest player I’ve ever coached,” Malikin said. “He’s so tough. He’s such a competitor. It’s been an adjustment for him.

“Once he was learned what Coach Estelle wanted, Harrison made a commitment and became the player he is.”

Hawkins won’t stop now. He has to represent Compton and live by the lessons he learned as a kid.

“I don’t take it for granted,” Hawkins said. “I keep working and try to become better.”

Text Only
  • GC Track & Field: Area meet Roundup

    Corsicana's Gilfillan wins 4A area pole vault title; Frost girls win 1A area team title, Frost boys finish second

    April 17, 2014

  • GC Baseball: Mildred falls to Riesel, 9-0, on the road

    Mildred managed a hit and struck out 12 times in a 9-0 loss on the road that could have given the Eagles some cushion in the 23-2A standings. They are now 5-6 with a game at league-leading Teague Tuesday.

    April 17, 2014

  • 4-18-14Roman.jpg CHS Soccer: Tigers boys and girls top off season with strong showing on All-District teams

    That tough and gutsy style of play sent both the boys and girls teams into the playoffs and on Thursday the Tigers were rewarded again for their fine seasons as two boys won special honors,four boys were named to the All-District first team and two girls earned first-team honors.
    Michael Roman, who did a little of everything — and did it well — was named the District 28-4A Utility Player of the Year, and sophomore defender Jesus Barreto was named the district's Newcomer of the Year.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-16-14Amessigns.jpg GC Basketball; Kerens' Ames signs with Cloud (Kan.) Community College

    There's nothing quite like signing day, and Taylor Ames was all smiles and beaming about her future Wednesday when she signed a letter-of-intent, accepting a basketball scholarship to Cloud County Community College in Kansas in front of family, friends and coaches at Kerens, where Ames leaves a legacy like no other.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-16-14NVSBMoerbe slides.jpg Navarro Softball: Bulldogs get ranked, split with Paris

    Minutes after Navarro split a doubleheader with Paris on Wednesday, Navarro softball Coach Jessica Karenke was told her Bulldogs had just been nationally ranked and are now No. 16 in the NJCAA national softball poll.
    She had no idea.
    And she didn't care.
    Karenke is worried about what happens on the diamond, and she had some concerns after Navarro made four errors in the second game that opened the door for Paris to pull off a 7-2 win after the Bulldogs and Ciara Luna controlled the first game with a 4-1 win.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • CallieDevinFCA.jpg GC: Mildred's O'Sullivan and Bland chosen to play in FCA All-Star games

    Mildred’s Devin O’Sullivan and Callie Bland have been selected to play in the FCA’s All-Star games on June 1.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-115-14CHSBBMinniear.jpg CHS Baseball: Lindale haunts Tigers again with critical 4-0 win

    Lindale has been poison to Corsicana all year.
    The Eagles won a bizarre game in Lindale to keep the Tigers out of the football playoffs and ruined the boys basketball season with two gut-wrenching wins in the final week of the season.
    They did it again Tuesday, beating the Tigers 4-0 at Price Field to take over second place in the District 16-4A race.
    Lindale (6-2) had one big inning to hand Corsicana (5-3) its second loss in a row.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • I4-15-14Kellysigns.jpg GC Volleyball: Kerens' Kelly signs with Paris Junior College

    She prayed about it. She lost sleep about it. And she prayed about it some more.
    That's just a glimpse of what Marqueshia Kelly went through before deciding to turn down a half dozen basketball scholarships and accept a scholarship to play volleyball at Paris Junior College.
    The journey might have been a little sleepless, but in the end it wasn't that tough for Kelly, who is a multi-sport star at Kerens.
    “I followed my heart,'' she said on Tuesday just moments after signing a letter-of-intent to play volleyball at Paris in front of family, coaches and friends.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • CHS Tennis: Tigers play well in powerhouse region

    Corsicana's tennis team finished its season with a  strong showing in the Class 4A Regional Tournament at UT-Arlington before falling to some powerhouse players from Dallas.

    April 15, 2014

  • GC Baseball/Softball: Roundup -- Blooming Grove edges Mildred 1-0 (Adds Dawson-Hubbard baseball)

    Blooming Grove kept its baseball playoff hopes alive, winning a pitcher’s duel, 1-0, in Mildred Tuesday night. Dalton Blake struck out 11 and scattered five hits in a well-pitched game that took an hour and a half to complete.

    April 15, 2014

House Ads
AP Video
Twitter Updates