Regardless of what happens in the NBA draft, it will be just another big step in a very
busy summer for Hersey Hawkins.The high-scoring, 6-foot-3 guard from Bradley almost certainly will be chosen among the top four picks in the draft Tuesday, with No. 3 by Philadelphia the most likely scenario.
After the draft, he will join dozens of relatives in Arkansas for a family reunion next week, followed by his marriage to Jennifer Teamer in Chicago on July 9.
About a week later, he will join about 20 other hopefuls for the continuation of the U.S. Olympic team tryouts at Georgetown University. A probable berth on the Olympic team would follow in September.
Hawkins visited four teams - Indiana, New Jersey, Philadelphia and the Los Angeles Clippers - in recent days, but they didn't give him a clue of their plans.
"I have no idea," he said. "It's hard to read those guys, they've been doing it so long. But I was treated very well. I couldn't ask for more than to be picked in the top three or four."
Hawkins was surprised how each team handled its predraft meeting with Hawkins in their own way.
"Each place had me do different things," he said. "Philadelphia had me shooting off the dribble and Indiana just ran drills, checking my foot speed and quickness."
Hawkins was a scoring machine for Bradley as a senior, averaging 36.3, eight points higher than anyone else in the nation and the highest NCAA mark in 11 years.
He also became the all-time leading scorer in Missouri Valley history, surpassing the likes of Oscar Robertson and Larry Bird.
"Without question, whoever drafts Hersey will get a premier player," said Bradley coach Stan Albeck, a former NBA coach at San Antonio and New Jersey. "He's the kind of guy who will give you maximum production every minute he's on the floor."
The NBA, however, has seen more than one college scoring juggernaut who couldn't handle the defensive demands of the NBA.
"I know I can play defense," Hawkins said. "I was known for it when I was a freshman. But later on I wasn't able to play hard on defense because I had to stay on the floor and stay out of foul trouble. It's hard to shed that reputation for defense when you're a scorer."
Hawkins did admit to a little apprehension about his first confrontation defensively with Chicago's Michael Jordan.
"I'm a rookie and he knows he's above me, but if I have trouble guarding him, I guess I'll join a large group," Hawkins said.
He has no such apprehension that he can be a scorer in the NBA, however.
"There's no doubt in my mind I can score, but I can't expect to do what I did in college right off," Hawkins said. "You have to learn the game all over again in the NBA. You have to prove yourself."
The Clippers will draft Kansas' Danny Manning with the No. 1 pick in the first round, but it's unlikely they will get a chance at Hawkins with their sixth pick.
Indiana is leaning toward 7-4 Rik Smits of Marist with the No. 2 pick, but list Hawkins as an alternative.
Philadelphia, choosing third, is desperate for help at shooting guard, appears to be a perfect stopping place for the Bradley guard.
After the 76ers, the first-round order includes New Jersey, Golden State, the Clippers, Phoenix, Charlotte, Miami, San Antonio, New York, Washington, Milwaukee, Phoenix, Seattle, Houston, Utah, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Portland, Cleveland, Denver, Boston and the Los Angeles Lakers.