Oct. 31, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Nearly 56 years have passed since Tom Hawkins played his final collegiate men’s basketball game for the University of Notre Dame, yet the indelible mark he left on the program remains intact today. While dozens of players have donned an Irish uniform since Hawkins last took the court, none have been able to duplicate his rebounding as he remains the career leader in that category.
Hawkins, whose 1,318 career rebounds rank currently as the oldest record in the 109-year annals of Fighting Irish men’s basketball, will become the seventh inductee into the Notre Dame Basketball Ring of Honor on Jan. 17, 2015, at halftime of the Notre Dame-Miami men’s basketball game. He will follow six former players–Austin Carr (2011), Adrian Dantley (2012), Skylar Diggins (2013), Luke Harangody (2010) and Ruth Riley (2010)–and former men’s head coach Richard “Digger” Phelps (2014) into the school’s Ring of Honor.
“Tom Hawkins is so deserving of being inducted into our Basketball Ring of Honor,” 15-year Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey says. “He was such a ground-breaking player for the program and has been a great ambassador for the University since he graduated. It is truly amazing that his rebounding record has stood the test of time. Tom has a great love for Notre Dame basketball, as does his son, Kevin. It will be a great night for Tom, his family and the entire Irish basketball family when we add him to the list of extraordinary honorees whose names and numbers already hang from the Purcell Pavilion rafters.”
One of 25 players selected to Notre Dame’s All-Century Team in 2004-05 as part of the University celebration of 100 years of basketball, Hawkins started all 79 contests from 1956-59. His career averages of 23.0 points and 16.7 rebounds per game, place him third and second, respectively, in the Irish record books. He missed three games his senior season due to an injury, but he helped the Irish compile a 56-26 mark (.683) over the course of his three campaigns. Nicknamed the “Hawk,” the former Chicago, Illinois, native concluded his career as the all-time Notre Dame leader in nearly every scoring category, including career points (1,820), season points (720) and points in a game (43). He also still ranks ninth on the school’s career points list.
A two-time second-team All-American in 1957-58 and 1958-59, Hawkins was the first black basketball player to earn All-America accolades at Notre Dame. He also became the first Irish player to average double figures in both scoring and rebounding in each of his three seasons.
As a sophomore in 1956-57, Hawkins finished with 576 points (20.6 ppg.) and 494 rebounds (17.3) while leading his Irish team to a 20-8 record and an appearance in the NCAA Championship Midwest Region semifinals. In his junior year, he guided his squad to a second straight 20-win campaign, as Notre Dame finished with a 24-5 ledger and advanced to the championship game of the NCAA Championship Mideast Region. Hawkins finished that season with career bests of 720 points and 499 rebounds, while averaging a personal-best 25.2 ppg., and 17.2 rebounds during the 1957-58 campaign. He also earned a spot on the NCAA Mideast Region all-tournament team.
Hawkins co-captained the 1958-59 Irish squad in his final season at Notre Dame and averaged 23.4 points and 15.2 rebounds.
Hawkins graduated from Notre Dame in 1959, receiving his bachelor’s degree in sociology from the College of Arts and Letters. Drafted by the Minneapolis Lakers as the fourth overall pick in the 1959 National Basketball Association Draft, Hawkins enjoyed a 10-year career in the NBA while playing for Minneapolis, the Cincinnati Royals and the Los Angeles Lakers. During his pro career he scored 6,672 points and grabbed 4,607 rebounds. Hawkins also served as the Lakers’ player representative and was a member of the NBA players’ negotiation team.
Following his NBA playing career, Hawkins moved into the broadcast booth, where he spent 19 years as a local and national television and radio broadcaster. He also worked 18 years within the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, serving as both vice president of communications and vice president of external affairs. In 2012, Hawkins authored a book on poetry entitled Life’s Reflections: Poetry for the People.
Hawkins’ son Kevin, who graduated from the University in 1981, followed in his father’s footsteps at his alma mater. Kevin was member of the Irish basketball squad from 1978-81.