Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Unlike Giddens, Hawkins survived trouble


Kansas University senior guard Jeff Hawkins understands what it's like to reside in coach Bill Self's doghouse.

That's why Hawkins left J.R. Giddens alone after a May 19 scuffle at Lawrence's Moon Bar, a brawl in which Giddens was slashed.

"Maybe some of the other players got hold of him, but I hadn't had the chance to talk to him," Hawkins said. "I had kind of been in the same situation, where I didn't know if I was on the team or off the team. I know how he felt."

Hawkins was suspended in the 2004-05 preseason for undisclosed reasons and didn't travel to KU's exhibition-game excursion in September to Canada. He later was reinstated.

Giddens, of course, wasn't. After being in isolation after the Moon Bar incident, Giddens, Self announced last week, was transferring from KU in what the coach said was a mutual decision and not a punishment. Though no police report had been released and no arrests had been made, Self said a fresh start was best for all involved.

The move surprised former players reached for comment last week, including Keith Langford and Nick Bahe. Hawkins said Tuesday that he was surprised, too.

"I was shocked," Hawkins said. "J.R. was a real great player and has really helped out this program. It's just unfortunate that he had to leave."

Immediately after the stabbing, Hawkins said he called Giddens and left a long message. After Self's announcement last week, Hawkins called Giddens again.

"I called him the day of and I talked to him briefly for about 20 seconds," Hawkins said. "He said he had to get back to me. He seemed pretty good.

"I'm sure if he's hurting, he's just not showing it. But he seemed pretty good."

Giddens said last week he wouldn't comment until he chose a new school, but Hawkins and his KU teammates already are looking ahead. KU often has dealt with transfers in the last 15 months - in all, five Jayhawks have left KU for a variety of reasons since the end of Self's first season - and Hawkins expects the Jayhawks to swallow the loss and again move forward.

"We can't keep thinking about the Moon Bar and J.R. because we have to move on," Hawkins said. "It's been a real tough seven weeks. But we've been working out real hard. We still have a lot of guard power."

Hawkins includes himself among the perimeter threats, and, as a senior, he's aware his role could be big for next year's young squad.

"I'm really ready for the challenge," Hawkins said. "This is a really great opportunity for me right now."

¢ Grad school for Hawkins: Hawkins still is discussing his plans for school this fall.

The fifth-year senior finished his bachelor's degree in May, and with one more year of basketball left, Hawkins has one more year of free education, too.

However, Hawkins wants to focus on basketball, so he won't aggressively pursue his master's degree aggressively just yet.

"I'd rather put in an extra two or three hours on the court working out," Hawkins said. "I think I'm just going to take a couple of classes, and later in life, if I want to get my master's, which I will, it will be time for that."

¢ APR hit: Through no fault of current players, the KU basketball team's Academic Progress Rate score might suffer.

With the transfer of Giddens and freshman Alex Galindo, along with last year's transfers of Omar Wilkes and David Padgett, the NCAA's new point system at measuring academic achievement might take a hit on KU's hoops teams. A program loses points when players leave school for any reason, including transfer.

Sub-standard APR scores could come with loss of scholarship, but Kansas might not have to worry: Punishments that drastic only come when a player leaves school in poor academic standing. That's not thought to be the case with any of the recent transfers.

"I don't think we can get caught up immediately in a numbers game," associate athletics director Jim Marchiony said. "On the other hand, we want to continue to do the type of work that is necessary to make sure that everyone remains eligible and on track to graduate."


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