Rodney Hawkins graduated from Lake Clifton last spring with no college plans and “nothing at all” happening in his basketball recruitment.
The 6-foot-7 forward had moved back to Baltimore for his senior season after a three-year stint in Georgia, where his mother was transferred for her military job. But although he played well for the Lakers, college interest never came.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Hawkins said. “I wasn’t surprised, this being my first time coming back.”
Last fall, however, Hawkins’ recruitment picked up considerably thanks to him joining Mt. Zion Prep, a first-year post-grad program in Northeast Baltimore. Last week, Hawkins committed to Saint Peter’s, a Division I program located in Jersey City, N.J.
“To be honest, it wasn’t [a] tough [decision] because I wanted to get away from Baltimore again,” said Hawkins, an East Baltimore native who also claimed offers from Loyola and UMBC. “I didn’t want to stay here to go to school because of the environment.”
After leaving Lake Clifton last spring, Hawkins joined Under Armour B’more’s Finest. Brian Scott, the AAU program’s 17-and-under coach, told Hawkins about Mt. Zion Prep, and Hawkins happily signed on for a post-grad season.
“Rodney is a unique player because he’s a stretch 4, a guy who can play the 4-man and also play the wing,” said Mt. Zion coach Rodrick Harrison. “He has the ability to hit the outside shot and also get through the post to the bucket. I think he’ll be great with Saint Peter’s. He’s like a hybrid tight end in football. He’s one of those guys, a 4 that’s athletic, skilled and tough enough to play the wing. He’s a mismatch for a lot of 4-men in that [MAAC] conference.”
Hawkins, who said he has achieved a qualifying SAT score, is averaging around 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Warriors, who are headed to Florida this weekend for a tournament at IMG Academy. Saint Peter’s began pursuing Hawkins early in Mt. Zion’s season.“They called and texted me every day,” Hawkins said. “I just looked into [the school] more and looked at how many [players] they had graduating this year, how many underclassmen they’re bringing in.”
Hawkins said he’s looking forward to “playing out of town, playing on a bigger stage in a new environment. … [The Saint Peter’s coaches] can expect me to keep going hard, never giving up on the team and keeping the school pride.”