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Former KU guard Jeff Hawkins tries to make his mark at coaching

Perry-Lecompton Head Coach Jeff Hawkins talks with his team during a timeout Friday night during the second quarter of the Kaws game with Atchison County Community High School.Perry-Lecompton Head Coach Jeff Hawkins talks with his team during a timeout Friday night during the second quarter of the Kaws game with Atchison County Community High School.

Story and photos by Dennis Sharkey

When former Perry-Lecompton boys basketball coach Jeff Dickson resigned at the end of last year the school was left looking for a new coach, but what they found was a Jayhawk.

Former KU guard Jeff Hawkins officially coached his first game as head coach when the Kaws took the court last Friday. It’s Hawkins first job as a head coach at any level and only his second year coaching.

Hawkins wasn’t looking for a job when he got the call from Perry-Lecompton Principal JB Elliot last spring. He had just finished his first season as assistant coach at Ellis High School, about 20 miles west of Hays.

Perry-Lecompton Head Coach Jeff Hawkins gives instructions to junior guard Jonathan Denton Friday night.

Perry-Lecompton Head Coach Jeff Hawkins gives instructions to junior guard Jonathan Denton Friday night.

It was Ellis’ success that caught the eye of Elliot. One day last spring Elliot was on the Kansas High School Athletics Association Web site looking over sub-state brackets across the state to see who had a good year. Elliot took notice of Ellis because they made it to the finals of their regional sub-state and saw Hawkins’ name on the roster. Elliot said he wondered if it was the same Jeff Hawkins that had played at KU from 2002-2006. Elliot decided to pick up the phone and see.

“My thought was he may have some interest in coming back to the Lawrence area,” Elliot said.

And he did.

The two talked on the phone, a meeting was set up, and Hawkins was eventually hired.

“It gives him an opportunity to still live in Lawrence,” Elliot said. “The convenience factor worked out for both of us I guess.”

Elliot also saw the hiring as an opportunity for the students to learn from a player who played at a high level, at a program that Perry is in the shadows of.

“Any time you get an opportunity to work with someone who has a lot of experience like coach Hawkins does it’s a tremendous opportunity.”

Hawkins said he didn’t really have a game plan when he arrived at Perry-Lecompton this summer of how to approach the job. Hawkins said he just wanted to get to work and let everything else take care of itself.

“Just jump in,” Hawkins said about his approach. “Once you jump in the water your body is going to hit the water no matter if you jump in feet first or head first. Just get going is the best way to approach it.”

One thing Hawkins did know is that he wanted to get closer to his players.

“We’ve kind of all bonded here the last couple of weeks,” Hawkins said. “We’ve just been bonding and getting after it.”

Although he still keeps in contact with former coaches Roy Williams and Bill Self, Hawkins said he hasn’t asked for advice. He said he will take a little bit of everything he’s learned throughout his life.

“It even goes down to my first ever coach, Al Collins,” Hawkins said. “I think we’ll have a lot of different styles of play depending on our opponent.”

Although the Kaws dropped their first contest versus Atchison County Community High School last week, Hawkins attitude after the game was upbeat. That’s an attribute that Elliot says Hawkins brings to the team and what the school was looking for.

“It’s worked out great so far,” he said. “He’s a tremendously positive attitude and it’s good for our kids to be around him. He’s a very enlightening young man.”

Hawkins said his team’s success will be measured by not just wins, but how much fun his kids have playing the game.

“We need to try and better ourselves every day,” Hawkins said. “I believe if they’re not having fun then they’re not going to work hard.”

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Posted by on Dec 12 2010. Filed under Featured, Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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