The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT)
A special knack
Nobody gets fouled shooting 3-pointers more often than Hawkins
CHICAGO — When Jordan Hawkins lofted up a 3-pointer about five minutes before halftime on Tuesday night, his teammates on the UConn men’s basketball team’s bench sensed exactly what was coming.
“There it is!,” a couple of players yelled after Hawkins was fouled in the act of shooting by DePaul’s Yor Anei.
Yup, there it was.
Again. Jordan Hawkins getting fouled on a 3-point attempt. And it would happen yet again later in the game.
Hawkins’ ability to get fouled while shooting 3pointers has been one of the remarkable constants of this strange, rollercoaster season for the Huskies. It’s uncanny, really.
Hawkins has now been fouled on a 3-pointer 13 times this season. It happened twice against Oklahoma State on Dec. 1 and again at Florida on Dec. 7, and has increased in frequency lately, seven times in UConn’s last nine games: twice at Xavier on Dec. 31, once at Providence on Jan. 4, twice against Creighton on Jan. 7 and two more times on Tuesday night.
Records aren’t kept on such statistics, of course, but Hawkins’ unique ability to get fouled while shooting a 3 has to lead the nation. And it’s got to be some sort of program record, too, one of those unique occurrences that has become as commonplace in UConn games, right up there with Shabazz Napier nailing clutch shots, Phil Nolan taking charges and Rodney Purvis inadvertently stepping out of bounds.
“I really don’t try to get fouled, they just foul me,” Hawkins said, with a shrug, after going 12-for-14 from the foul line Tuesday night. “It just happens. They’ve got to respect the shot, they try to run me off the line, sometimes too hard. So, I just shoot it.”
It’s not a particularly common play in college basketball. There may not be an art to it, but it’s not exactly dumb luck, either.
“It’s having the type of footwork (Hawkins has), how quickly he gets into the shot, and obviously the scouting report on him,” UConn coach Dan Hurley noted. “If you don’t get into your shot as quickly as he does, and how fast he cuts — that’s what creates it. I think his
defenders are so surprised how quickly he gets into his shot when they see him the first time.”
The fact that Hawkins is shooting 39.9 percent from 3 this season and is one of the most dangerous deep threats in the Big East certainly helps, as well. He leads the conference in 3-pointers per game (2.9).
Then there’s this: when Hawkins gets fouled, he almost always makes his free throws. The sophomore is hitting 85.9 percent of his foul shots this season, and he’s been even hotter lately. Over his last eight games, Hawkins has hit 48 of 51 free throws — a 94-percent clip. He had made 18 straight before missing one of his attempts after being fouled on — you guessed it — a 3point attempt with about nine minutes left to play on Tuesday night.
In fact, of the 13 times Hawkins has been fouled in the act of a 3-pointer this season, he’s made all three freebies 10 times and
never missed more than one.
Of course, Hawkins is more than just a shooter, from the foul line or distance. He’s a dynamic athlete, as well, as a pair of plays on Tuesday night demonstrated. About 4 ½ minutes into the second half, Hawkins chased down DePaul’s Umoja Gibson on a fast-break layup attempt and made a
fantastic block from behind.
“I knew he wasn’t going to dunk the ball,” Hawkins said. “I knew I had the chance to get it, and I timed it right. The team needed it. I didn’t want him to get the easy bucket.”
With 1:32 left and UConn up 15, Hawkins pretty much settled the game in emphatic fashion
with a powerful, driving dunk down the lane.
And Hawkins, who is averaging 23.6 points over his last five games, has improved in other areas of his game, too. He’s taken eight charges this season (yes, UConn keeps track of that), second on the team to Tristen Newton’s 11. On Tuesday night, as the Huskies got off to a sluggish start defensively, there was Hawkins poking a ball loose and diving to the floor for a loose ball in the corner.
Certainly, the 11 NBA scouts in attendance had to be impressed. It’s that type of freakish athleticism and all-around game that could make Hawkins a first-round draft pick in June. Maybe even a lottery pick.
But his terrific shooting from 3-point land and from the foul line help set him apart. And, for what it’s worth, no one in the country has a better knack for getting fouled while shooting a 3-pointer than Jordan Hawkins.