As soon as the letter of intent hit the table, Malik Hawkins grabbed his pen. A quick draw with the ball in his hands, he’d waited long enough. He just wanted to sign his name.
But before the Ellison senior sharpshooter could pull the trigger and finalize his college choice, Eagles head coach Alberto Jones put on the breaks. Jones hadn’t even introduced him yet.
“It was excitement, it was pure excitement,” Hawkins said. “I love the coaching staff out there ... They’ve treated me like family, the players ... I just loved it out there.”
After waiting an extra 15 minutes while the Navarro College coach was delayed due to mid-day traffic, Hawkins finally got his chance and signed with the Bulldogs during a ceremony Thursday at Ellison High School.
“I’m happy for him because he really, really worked for it,” said Jones, who described Hawkins as the best shooter he’s had in his eight years with the Ellison program.
One day after friend and teammate Ojai Black signed with McLennan Community College, Hawkins followed the junior college route, with both Eagles guards already looking forward to their Nov. 12 meeting.
“It’s going to be weird not playing on his team, him not being my point guard, but it’s something I’m going to have to adjust to,” Hawkins said. “I’m going to be seeing him Nov. 12.”
It was at one of his biggest and most heart-wrenching games that Hawkins first drew the interest of the Navarro coaching staff.
“After the playoff game, the (Navarro) coaches contacted me and told me how they liked my game and two weeks later I went on a visit and I just loved it out there,” Hawkins said.
Having made four of his first nine 3-point attempts, including nailing a dagger 3 with 55 seconds left to put Ellison on top 44-43, Hawkins had the Eagles on the verge of upsetting No. 4 South Grand Prairie in their Region I-5A quarterfinal Feb. 26.
Only, after calling for the game’s final shot with 5.6 seconds left and the Eagles trailing, Hawkins’ final 3-point try rimmed out as time expired and SGP moved on with a 45-44 victory.
“He showed he had heart, he wanted the big moment,” Jones said. “He had the 3 right before that and when we called the timeout, he wanted the ball for that shot. He showed he wanted it.”
But it was Hawkins who won in the long run, earning himself a college scholarship to Navarro for his fearless effort.
“They saw a dog in me that they haven’t seen before, because I like to get at it,” Hawkins said.
A deadly shooter from deep, Hawkins was a first-team All-District 8-5A and Daily Herald All-Area first-team selection after averaging 15.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and two assists per game in helping Ellison to its first district title since 2004.
“They’re getting somebody that can produce, that’s solid, as soon as I get there I’m going to be ready to work,” Hawkins said.