Legacies of Atlantic: Ryan Hawkins

Ryan Hawkins has become an inspirational figure for young children in Atlantic.

Ryan Hawkins was the top scorer with 21 points during this AHS basketball game his junior year.

Noah Bruckner

Ryan Hawkins was the top scorer with 21 points during this AHS basketball game his junior year.

Claire Pellett and Abigail Muller

Ryan Hawkins. A small-town kid that made it big. From bouncing the ball around in the YMCA league to playing in the NBA, Ryan Hawkins lived the dream that many kids hope to achieve. And it all started with a NERF hoop in his house.

Hawkins has had a ball in his hands for as long as he can remember. He was involved in numerous other activities as a kid but he truly fell in love with basketball in fifth grade. Hawkins said that he enjoyed playing with his team and found some of his best friends in the game. “We ended up playing all through high school together and made a lot of memories along the way,” Hawkins said.

Although Hawkins fell in love with the game early on, it wasn’t until his junior year of high school that he realized he could go further with his basketball career. “I think Coach Jenkins and Coach Hoegh really helped me take the next step and realize the potential I had,” he said. “I was thinking if I really put some time and effort into this, I could be a lot better than I am.”

And a lot better he got. Hawkins averaged 22.2 points and 13.4 rebounds per game in high school. He also had 89 steals and 43 blocks his senior year and then proceeded to set a single-game scoring record with 45 points. 

After high school, Hawkins spent a year as a redshirt at Northwest Missouri State University, which became the national champion in their division that year. He played in all 31 games off the bench his freshman year and started in all 38 games his sophomore year. He shot 51.5 percent from the field and hit 81 three-pointers that year. He continued a very impressive career at NWMSU in his junior year, adding 726 points to his total that season. He finished his career at Northwest with a record of 159-8 and three national titles. Hawkins decided he wasn’t quite done with basketball yet and went to Creighton University for another year. There, he surpassed 2,500 career points and 250 career steals.

As if setting records in a Division 1 basketball program wasn’t enough, Hawkins went on to play in the NBA for the Toronto Raptors. “My mindset is: I have a very small window to do this and I just want to continue to play while I can. I still get nerves before games, I still love the game, I’m not over that phase of my life yet,” said Hawkins. “As long as I still have the competitive edge, I can compete and I can worry about the future when the ball’s done bouncing.” His contract with the Raptors is for one year, and when it’s up, they’ll have the option to renew it or he can choose to go elsewhere. But behind all of his basketball success, is a kid that was always involved in the community.

As long as I still have the competitive edge, I can compete and I can worry about the future when the ball’s done bouncing.

— Ryan Hawkins

In high school, Hawkins was involved in cross country, soccer, track, baseball, and of course, basketball. He cherishes his childhood in Atlantic and the memories he made with his friends. Some of those include going to the pool and sledding down Washington Hill, the same memories many kids of Atlantic share. “We didn’t think about what our legacy was going to be but at the same time, we were representing our school and our community in a way that we would be proud of 10-15 years down the road,” Hawkins said. “I think it more shows the culture and the people in Atlantic that have helped raised me.”

Hawkins continues to have an impact on the Atlantic community today. The Atlantic boys and girls basketball teams went to an Iowa Wolves vs. Toronto Raptors game in Des Moines to support Hawkins. “There were around 100 Atlantic people at the game over Christmas Break. That’s very unheard of and I’m very thankful to have that support,” he said. “Even when I come back to work out in the summers, I’ve always had high schoolers willing to come rebound for me.” 

Ryan Hawkins. A name every kid looked up to and rightfully so. Making it big in his basketball career never affected his small-town pride. And perhaps there’s another Atlantic basketball player in the stands of Wells Fargo Arena dreaming of a future in the NBA. Ryan Hawkins proved it’s possible for a small-town kid in Iowa.