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Jordan Hawkins hopes to step in and contribute on both ends of the floor

The freshman shooting guard is ready to embrace his role as a dynamic two-way player.

Gaithersburg High School Duo Jordan Hawkins And Jao Ituka Photo by Will Newton for The Washington Post via Getty Images

UConn men’s basketball freshman Jordan Hawkins is prepared to hone his athleticism and volume scoring ability right away for Huskies. And with the departure of First Team All-Big East guard James Bouknight, there’s an immediate need for production out of the two-guard position given his nightly averages of 18.7 points and 5.7 rebounds.

However, Bouknight wasn’t particularly adept at shooting the three, ending his UConn career just 47-147 (32 percent) from beyond the arc. Hawkins, the highest ranked recruit in the Huskies’ 2021 class (No. 48 nationally per 247sports) comes in with a reputation for being able to splash the long ball with consistency.

A freshman sharpshooter is something the Huskies haven’t had in quite some time and it will be a welcome sight for the UConn faithful. Hawkins isn’t just a marksman, though. He’s also a very good athlete with a long, wiry frame and uses this elite athleticism and wingspan to disrupt opposing ball-handlers on defense and clog passing lanes.

“I expect my role to be score, defense, a two-way player, play-make, and just do whatever I can to make this team win,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins hails from the famed DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Maryland which has more than produced it’s fair share of college basketball and NBA stars. Mike Brey, Keith Bogans, Jerian and Jerami Grant, Victor Oladipo, Quinn Cook, Markelle Fultz, and Justin Moore are some of the notable alumni.

Hawkins’ high school coach, Mike Jones, think’s it’s a great match for his talented guard.

“UConn’s getting a steal. I think UConn is the perfect fit for him,” he told Hearst Connecticut’s Dave Borges.

Purely from a roster outlook perspective, Hawkins should get the most opportunities for playing time out of the three incoming freshman. Rahsool Diggins will likely be fighting for lead guard duties with RJ Cole and Jalen Gaffney, leaving the two spot somewhat up for grabs. That is unless Hurley decides to start both Gaffney and Cole, which is also a possibility.

Samson Johnson will be squarely behind Isaiah Whaley, Adama Sanogo, and Akok Akok on the front court depth chart while Andre Jackson and Tyrese Martin are in the mix in more of a three or small-ball four. That leaves Hawkins with ample opportunity to showcase his polished offensive and defensive game.

The opportunity has been apparent to Hawkins as well.

“[Dan Hurley] threw me in the fire right away since day one,” Hawkins said. “So he wants me to be a key contributor on the team. I’ve been learning, taking everything in, soaking everything in, asking questions.”

So far, Hawkins believes he’s embraced the challenge.

“I mean yeah, of course, it’s another adjustment. I had to do the same thing in high school so it’s really no different now,” he said.

Hawkins also laughed and gave a hearty smile when asked if Hurley has been calm thus far.

“This is summer Hurley right now. It’s not calm, but it’s just summer Hurley,” the freshman said. “So, I guess it’s calm for him.”

While UConn does boast quite a few guards on the roster that will vie for heavy minutes, Hawkins is the only true two-guard that possesses a unique blend of size, athleticism, and offensive versatility that extends beyond the three point-line.

The Huskies may struggle from long range yet again and Hawkins could be relied upon heavily to address the problem. Either way, with what he brings on both ends of the floor, it’ll probably be hard for Hurley to keep Hawkins off of the court.

And if Hawkins is right, that’ll be the case with the other freshmen as well.

“This is a very special group of freshmen we have. I’ve played against Rashool [Diggins] a bunch of times, so I knew he was special. Samson [Johnson] is going to be a special player.”