The Recruiting Guy:

Hogs' basketball target credits mentors for help

By: Richard Davenport Richard Davenport's Twitter account
Published: Sunday, January 13, 2019
A basketball sits in a rack at Bud Walton Arena in this undated photo.
( Andy Shupe)
A basketball sits in a rack at Bud Walton Arena in this undated photo.

University of Arkansas power forward target Raymond Hawkins, who lost his father to violence at 6 years old, credits several mentors for helping him focus on his dreams.

The Hogs gave him another reason to think he could achieve his goals when the Razorbacks extended a scholarship offer Tuesday.

"Growing up in Oakland, California, you don't get blessed with opportunities like this," Hawkins said. "I've been working hard for a long time trying to chase my dreams, and now a lot of the work is starting to pay off."

Hawkins, 6-9, 230 pounds, transferred to Findlay Prep in Las Vegas for his senior year from Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland. He has 18 scholarship offers from schools such as Arkansas, Mississippi State, St John's, DePaul, Nevada, UNLV and others.

Bishop O'Dowd Coach Lou Ritchie and his youth Coach William Chavarin, a principal of an Oakland high school, let him know there weren't any barriers to what he could accomplish.

"They showed me you can be anything you want," Hawkins said. "You can be a college basketball player, you can be a principal, you can be a father, a coach, a mentor. That's what started me and reminded me to work hard and chase my goals."

Close family friend Ivan Rabb, who plays forward for the Memphis Grizzlies, is another mentor to Hawkins.

"He went to the same high school I went to," Hawkins said. "I saw him grow up and become the player he is."

Hawkins is averaging 11.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists a game for the 13-4 Pilots. The Hogs have expressed strong interest in him while explaining to him and his mother how he can mature on and off the court.

"Arkansas has a high interest in me," Hawkins said. "They expressed to my mom how I could mature as a basketball player and as a student. How I could pursue my dream to be a businessman."

He's been in contact with lead recruiter and Razorback assistant Scotty Thurman for about three months. He calls their relationship "great" because of how Thurman has pursued him.

"He came out to see me multiple times," Hawkins said. "The biggest thing I like about Coach Thurman is he's honest. He tells me what I need to work on. He shows he cares a lot about me. The main thing, he told me he was going to visit me before he offered me, and that's a big difference from other schools. Other schools would talk to me a little bit and offer me a scholarship, and won't talk to me until it's time to commit."

His grandfather and great-grandmother originally were from Arkansas before moving to California. He still has some family members in Arkansas, and just last week he learned he's cousins with former Arkansas great Marvin Delph.

Hawkins plans to make the all-expenses paid official visit to Fayetteville after Findlay's season is completed in late February.

"I want to take a visit and see what it's like in person with my own eyes and see what the vibe is around town," he said.

His mother, Makisvha Pope, grew up with and attended school with former Razorback center and Oakland native Darnell Robinson, who played on the 1994 national championship team.

"I grew up listening to stories about Darnell, how popular and how good of a player he was," Hawkins said. "I met him a few times. I haven't talked to him yet about Arkansas because I haven't been home in a while, but I definitely want to talk to him about it."

Robinson played with Hawkins' uncle, Capis Hope, at Emery Secondary School before signing with Arkansas. Because of his upbringing in Oakland, Hawkins is looking to attend a college in a city with a safe environment.

"It's a best place to live in the SEC or something like that," Hawkins said.

SMU QB visits

Former SMU quarterback Ben Hicks visited Arkansas on Saturday and is expected to leave today.

Hicks announced his intentions to leave the Mustangs as a graduate transfer on Dec. 12. He will have one year of eligibility.

He started 33 games for SMU and was the program's career leader in passing with 9,081 yards and 71 passing touchdowns.

He was recruited to SMU by Arkansas Coach Chad Morris, and played three seasons for Morris and offensive coordinator Joe Craddock.

Email Richard Davenport at rdavenport@arkansasonline.com.

Sports on 01/13/2019

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