The news earlier this week that Corey Hawkins has decided to leave the Arizona State basketball program after just one season was surprising. But, on another level, it was also somewhat disturbing.
The announcement by Hawkins, the prolific scorer who set state records for career and season scoring at Estrella Foothills High School, comes just weeks after a similar scenario in Tucson. Daniel Bejarano had similar news for his coach at the University of Arizona, also leaving that program after a single season.
Bejarano was the No. 1 prospect in the state of Arizona when he came out of North High School in Phoenix. He averaged 23 points and 10 rebounds while leading North to two straight state titles.
Hawkins averaged 36 points a game in his senior season and broke Mike Bibby’s scoring record with a 3,164 career points.
Both were the cream of the crop in high school. It was a coup for the Arizona programs to snag that kind of in-state talent, which too often goes elsewhere to play their college ball.
So, here’s the disturbing part of these decisions. It comes in two parts.
First, there is the issue of both players being local favorites. Both ASU and UofA are often criticized for not being able to scoop up the talent in their own backyards, losing out to other major programs elsewhere in the country.
Now they pick up two of the best high school players to come out of Arizona in recent years… and both bolt after just one season. That has to give recruiters at both universities something to think about going forward.
Secondly, is it time to question whether the best that Arizona has to offer just don’t have the kind of game that translates to a good D-I program?
That argument might be further substantiated by the fact that both Hawkins and Bejarano are feeling the heat from high-profile incoming freshmen who will be vying with them for playing time.
In Hawkins’ case, he has surely been reading the publicity surrounding Jahii Carson‘s commitment to play for the Sun Devils. Carson, a four-star point guard who played at Mesa High School and was the No. 10 rated player nationally at his position, was a particularly sweet acquisition for ASU because the Arizona program also had him at the top of their wish list.
Hawkins, the son of NBA great Hersey Hawkins, played in 24 games this past season, but averaged just over eight minutes and two points a game. But he was expected to contend for a starting spot next season.
Bejarano averaged just under four minutes a game for the Wildcats and posted disappointing numbers in the games he played. He averaged 0.8 points per game and was just 12.5 percent on field goals.
So, when Arizona signed a 6’3″ guard considered by many to be the best high school point guard in California, the writing began to appear on the wall. Josiah Turner is an impact player who is expected to earn his playing time early.
On top of that, the Wildcats also picked up Nick Johnson from Gilbert High School, the No. 8 shooting guard in the country.
The fight for playing time next year just kept getting tougher. And so Bejarano is also looking for a new basketball home, where the guard position isn’t so crowded.
It will be interesting to see where both players end up playing the remainder of their college careers. It will most assuredly be at the D-I level, but would a major program be willing to take a chance after their one-and-done exits from Pac-10 programs?
Their brief fling with the Arizona schools may be as good as it gets.