Hawkins recalled being reduced to tears as a freshman during demanding sessions on the exercise bicycle under the watchful eye of Adkins and Marlin Chinn, another assistant under Coach Brenda Frese. There were other emotional breakdowns in practice when Hawkins doubted if she could keep pace running up and down the court repeatedly, as mandated by the coaching staff.
One workout, from when Hawkins was still at Riverdale Baptist High School, stands out in Frese’s mind.
“She was going to prom so she didn’t want to sweat,” Frese said this week with a chuckle. “We always knew that was going to be the hurdle, but we also were pretty confident that once she bought into it, she would be very successful.”
The dedication to physical fitness gradually produced a leaner athlete with far more stamina, and the results on the court have been pronounced. After averaging double figures in scoring as a junior, Hawkins this regular season led the ACC in scoring (18.3) and finished second in rebounding (9.5).
The first-team all-ACC selection is the third on Maryland’s career rebounding list behind Crystal Langhorne and Marissa Coleman and owns the school’s single-game record for rebounds with 24. Hawkins set the mark last season in an 86-58 victory over Wake Forest at Comcast Center, where the fourth-seeded Terrapins (24-7) will play No. 13 seed Quinnipiac (30-2) on Saturday morning in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
“I’ve never seen anybody rebound like her,” said teammate Malina Howard, an all-ACC freshman forward who has modeled her game after Hawkins. “I’ve never been around someone who it’s like the ball knows where she is and goes to her.”
Last season, in helping the Terrapins win the ACC tournament title and advance to an NCAA tournament region final, Hawkins led the country in field goal percentage (62.3 percent) and began drawing interest from WNBA teams. This season, WNBA coaches and scouts regularly attend her games, compelling Hawkins to consider another career after graduation.
As a criminal justice major, Hawkins’s original plan was to become a federal law enforcement agent.
“When I was younger, I was like ‘I might have a chance to play’ ” professionally, Hawkins said. “I wanted to play for the Mystics when I was younger, but as time went on when I got to high school and when I first got here, I was like ‘all right, I’m done after college.’ Just to see how things change, it’s just been great.”