- Cliff Hawkins
- Hometown (Last School)
- Dumfries, VA (Potomac)
- 2000-01, 2001-02, 2002-03, 2003-04
- December 24, 1981
Cliff Hawkins was born Clifton Hawkins on November 24, 1981, in Alexandria, Virginia to Monique Wilhite and Ricky Hunter. He has two brothers, Maurice and Dre, and one sister, Aliesha.
He started his high school career at Potomac High School in Dumfries, Virginia and transferred to Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson in his junior year, winning the Virginia Mr. Basketball award in his senior season in 2000. As a senior, Hawkins led Oak Hill to a 30-2 record and a No. 2 national ranking. As a junior, the Warriors were 32-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country by USA Today, ESPN, and The Associated Press. As a senior, Hawkins averaged a double-double — 10.1 points and 12.5 assists per game. He also set the school record for assists in a season with 400, surpassing the marks of NBA guards Jeff McInnis, Rod Strickland, and Cory Alexander. Hawkins set a school record with 167 steals as a senior (5.2 spg), breaking his own mark of 120 set during his junior season. He shot 66.7% from the free throw line, 48.0% from the field, and grabbed 3.6 rebounds per game. Hawkins was named MVP of the Iolani Prep Classic in Honolulu, defeating the nation’s No. 1 team, Dominguez (Calif.) in the title game. He also earned MVP honors in the Beach Ball Classic, tallying 12 points and 11 rebounds in the final game vs. Seton Hall Prep. After his final season, Hawkins played in the Kentucky Derby Festival, tallying 12 points and six rebounds, and participated in the ACC/USA Hoops Challenge. As a junior, he averaged 11.7 points per game, 2.3 rebounds per game, 5.4 assists per game, and 3.9 steals per game while playing shooting guard as Oak Hill was crowned national champion. Hawkins 50.0% from the field and 65.5% from the foul line. As a sophomore at Potomac High School, he led the team to a state runner-up finish. In the state semifinals, he held Ronald Curry, the ’98 National Player of the Year, to six points, while tallying 31 in the winning effort. Hawkins earned first-team Class AAA All-State honors before transferring to Oak Hill. He played on the 1998 DC Assault AAU team with Wildcat Keith Bogans.
Hawkins had originally committed to play at New Mexico, but later signed with Kentucky on November 13, 1999, knowing that the program needed a point guard after the graduation of Wayne Turner. Statistics weren’t what made Kentucky coach Tubby Smith first notice guard Cliff Hawkins. “Cliff is a tough and tenacious defender who’s been an important part of a championship program,” Smith said. “He understands what teamwork is all about and works to make others better. He’s not interested in padding his own stats, which was one of the first things that attracted us to him. He’s a point guard that knows how to push the ball up the court and he’s been well-schooled in the game, thanks to coach Steve Smith at Oak Hill.”
Hawkins stayed at Kentucky for four years, advancing to the NCAA tournament Sweet Sixteen in 2001 and 2002 and to the Elite Eight in 2003. In 2004, his senior year at Kentucky, he was an all-conference selection.
In his freshman season at Kentucky, Hawkins saw action in all but one game. He scored his first career field goal against Jacksonville State on November 21, 2000. In a win over North Carolina on December 2, 2000, he scored 11 points and dished 5 assists in 18 minutes of action. Against Notre Dame on January 13, 2001, Hawkins entered the game midway though the first half and sparked the Wildcats to a 13-0 run that set the stage for UK’s 82-71 win over the 25th-ranked Irish. “When I go in, Coach (Tubby Smith) tells me to give the team something it doesn’t have on the floor,” Hawkins said. “I feel like I can give the team energy on defense.” His play improved late in the season — totaled a career-high seven assists against LSU on February 21, 2001, and broke out of a 3-game shooting slump with a 4-of-7 performance (8 points) against Arkansas on February 25, 2001. He matched that shooting effort against Auburn on February 28, 2001, scoring nine points. Against Vanderbilt on February 17, 2001, Hawkins had three points, two assists, no turnovers, and three steals, his fifth no-turnover performance of the season.
As a sophomore, Hawkins started 29 of 32 games, including the last 26. He led the team in assists and ranked fourth in the SEC with a 4.3 per game average, the best assist average by a Cat since Wayne Turner’s 4.4 in 1998. Hawkins averaged 6.3 points per game, 4.3 rebounds per game, and 4.7 assists per game in the NCAA Tournament. He won three awards at the postseason team banquet: Most Assists, Co-Most Improved, and Mr. Deflection. Hawkins got his first career start against Western Kentucky on November 15, 2001. On December 15, 2001, Hawkins had his career-best floor game with eight assists and five steals against Kentucky State. On December 18, 2001, against Duke, he scored 15 points in 22 minutes, including nine of the Cats’ first 11 in overtime. Hawkins, the whirling dervish of a point guard turned the Indiana Hoosiers inside out on December 22, 2001, while leading UK to a 66-52 victory before an announced crowd of 29,379. Hawkins scored a career-high 17 points, handed out a game-high five assists, and completely outplayed Hoosiers point guards Tom Coverdale and Donald Perry. This clearly established the lightning-quick left-hander as the Cats’ floor leader. When Hawkins wasn’t making steals (two) or knocking down three-pointers (2 for 4), he was sprinting past the Hoosiers’ guards, then dropping pull-up jumpers, laying it off the glass, or dishing off to an open teammate. On January 5, 2002, Hawkins posted a career-best 10 assists against Mississippi State, including nine in the first half. He also tied career highs with six field goals, two three-pointers and 31 minutes played. Hawkins sank the game-winning shot against South Carolina on January 12, 2002, with 3.4 seconds remaining. He grabbed a career-high seven rebounds against Florida on January 29, 2002.
Hawkins had academic issues at the beginning of his junior year, and missed the first 7 games; he also lost his starting role in the lineup, and only started 1 game out of 29 appearances. Coach Smith used Hawkins as a sixth man and the guard had his best year in shooting, posting career highs in three-point field goal percentage (38.1%) and free throw percentage (74.7%). Hawkins reappeared on the court on December 21 against Indiana after missing the first games of the year, scored 4 points, and had 5 rebounds and 5 assists in 26 minutes of play. He then scored 14 points (a season-high) on February 23, 2003, against Mississippi State, and he posted 9 assists in the SEC tournament win against Vanderbilt. In the 2003 NCAA tournament, Hawkins debuted with 13 points and 6 assists in 22 minutes against IUPUI (2/3 from the three-point line), followed by another 13-point performance against Utah. He then scored 4 points (with 4 steals) against Wisconsin, and in the loss against Marquette, he had 9 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 assists in 27 minutes. At the end of the season he was an Honorable mention AP All-SEC selection, and he led his team in assists (3.8) and steals per game (1.4).
Hawkins gained back his starting assignments in his senior year, and he started at point guard all of his 32 appearances. Hawkins recorded career highs in all statistical categories with 30.6 minutes, 10.3 points, 2.9 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 2.3 steals per game. He led the SEC in assists per game and total steals, while he was second in steals per game. During the 2004 NCAA tournament, Hawkins debuted with 14 points and 4 assists against Florida A&M and ended his career at Kentucky with 9 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals in 26 minutes in the loss against UAB. At the end of the season, he was named in the All-SEC Third Team by the Associated Press.
Hawkins scored a total of 839 points for the Wildcats, and ranks 7th all-time in total assists with 468, and 3rd in total steals with 199.
After going undrafted in the 2004 NBA draft Hawkins started his professional career in Italy with LegaDue team JuveCaserta. He has played in Italy, France, Croatia, Turkey, Japan, Poland, Cyprus and Georgia in his 8-year professional career.