Season recap: Tianna Hawkins
Senior year couldn't have been much better for Tianna Hawkins.
The Maryland-bound power forward averaged 17 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks per game, leading Riverdale Baptist to a 26-3 record and the No. 11 ranking in the country by USA Today.
But for all of Hawkins’ successes this year, even Riverdale Baptist coach Gina Miller was taken aback when the 6-foot-3 post player was named Gatorade Player of the Year in Maryland.
“We were both surprised,” Miller said. “I mean I think she had 16 straight games with a double-double, but I don’t even know who’s on the panel that voted for that award. So we were surprised and elated.”
According to Miller, the honor was well deserved. Hawkins stepped up for the Crusaders when it mattered most and made a variety of improvements to her game.
“Defensively she showed a lot of improvement and she took on more of a leadership approach on the court,” Miller said. “She worked really hard for us this year. ... There were a couple moments this year when I went up to her to see where [her mind] was at, and she'd just say, ‘I’m ready, Coach. I’m focused.’”
Aaron Kinchen was in his first year as an assistant coach with Riverdale Baptist after serving as the defensive line coach for the Bowie State football team. Kinchen saw Hawkins once during a tournament at Prince George’s Community College last year. According to Kinchen, a transformation took place in Hawkins between then and now.
“She was decent then, but I didn’t know too much about her,” Kinchen said. “But when I got to Riverdale, she was a totally different girl. Athletically, she toned up and was in great shape. I’m not saying she wasn’t in shape then, but I know she’s in great shape now.
“She was the team captain. We really leaned on her this year. When we needed that one bucket to go ahead, she was the one we called on. We called her number on many occasions. She gave it to us each time.”
Miller and Kinchen both mentioned Riverdale’s 65-46 win over Arundel in February as a highlight of Hawkins' senior season. The Wildcats featured three seniors committed to Division I programs, plus a 6-foot-5 junior with a DI future. Hawkins scored 20 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in the win. That game was typical of Hawkins’ senior year.
Hawkins will probably be expected to contribute immediately to the Terps. With Drey Mingo’s transfer, it’s possible Hawkins will be one of UM’s first post players off the bench. Miller said it won’t be an easy transition from high school to college, but Hawkins is up for the challenge.
“She’s got to be able to defend in the post,” Miller said. “That’s what they recruited her to do. So she’ll just have to be ready to come in and be in shape, attack the boards and attack on offense and keep her head in the game. It’s going to be a big jump for her. A big step up. ... But she’s going to be leaving big shoes to fill for us next year.”