Jordan Hawkins #24 of the Connecticut Huskies dribbles past Sadiku Ibine Ayo #2 of the Iona Gaels in the first half during the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Pelicans No. 14 pick Jordan Hawkins motivated to continue adding to skill set

The glowing praise related to Jordan Hawkins’ accurate perimeter shot continues to accumulate, with descriptions such as “breathtaking” and “unmatchable” being common since he was drafted by New Orleans at No. 14 overall last week. The 21-year-old sounds motivated to carve out a reputation beyond being just a spot-up shooter, however.

“People target me as a shooter, but last year our (national championship UConn) team was so deep, I had to take a step back and take that role,” Hawkins said Tuesday during his introductory New Orleans press conference. “I can put the ball on the floor, create when I have to, playmake. I adjust to what the team needs me to do.”

Jordan Hawkins' Introductory Press Conference 6/27/2023

Near the top of the Maryland native’s 2022-23 individual resume was his 38.8 three-point percentage on 281 tries, but he also was second on the Huskies in free throw attempts per game (3.8). It helped that Hawkins led NCAA Division I with 23 fouls drawn on three-pointers (via CBB Analytics), but he totaled 141 foul shots, making 125 for an elite percentage of 88.7.

Since helping UConn win the 2023 national title in April, Hawkins said he’s added 10 pounds, realizing he needs to get stronger as enters the professional level.

“I’ve been putting a lot (of work) on my body,” he said. “That’s been the most important thing for me through this process.”

During ABC’s draft-night coverage, UConn head coach Dan Hurley described Hawkins as a mature and coachable player, with an attitude that lends itself to improvement.

“The shooting is breathtaking when you see it on a daily basis,” Hurley said. “He’s tough, competitive, he’s got a chip on his shoulder. He really didn’t come into his own until late in his career, so he hasn’t had his butt kissed a whole lot. He lets you coach him, he wants to be coached, and he’s an old soul.”

Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon used a similar tone Tuesday in his assessment of Hawkins.

“Not only is (his) shooting very important to us, but the more digging and the more intel-gathering we did on him, we understood what a high-character young man he is,” Langdon said, “coming from a great family, hard worker, highly competitive and obviously bringing a national champion in the fold was intriguing to us as well.”

Given his on-court reputation and skill set, defenses have always tried to prevent Hawkins from firing open shots or getting clean looks at the basket with his feet set. As a counter to that strategy, the 6-foot-5, 190-pounder has worked on adding versatility to his offensive arsenal. He’s constantly focused on his conditioning in order to run relentlessly on offense, while developing a knack for shooting on the move or off of screens. Hawkins mentioned that one of his high school coaches developed a “Reggie Miller offense” to capitalize on those strengths.

“I knew I was a shooter at a young age, but adding that movement piece was really important,” said Hawkins, who’s studied the way guards such as Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Richard Hamilton and Ray Allen relocate away from the ball in halfcourt offense.

Three months after scoring 16 points in UConn’s title-clinching win over San Diego State, Hawkins will get his first chance to show his ability at the pro level in Las Vegas during NBA Summer League. New Orleans’ summer squad will debut in game action July 7 vs. Minnesota.

“I’m really excited for it, my first glimpse of professional basketball,” said Hawkins, who’ll practice with his summer teammates prior to the trip to Nevada. “It’s going to be really fun. I can’t wait for that first practice, to see what it’s really like. I can’t wait.”