D.C. Assault coach Matt Parker instituted a no-layup rule for his 15-and-under basketball team during a game against Baltimore Elite last summer. So, when Byron Hawkins saw an Elite player running ahead for a layup, Hawkins caught up and fouled the shooter.
Hard.So hard, in fact, Hawkins was ejected. Parker wasn't certain it was the right call, but at minimum, Parker concedes Hawkins didn't make a play on the ball.
“It was still a great play,” Parker said.
It also was a teaching moment for Parker, who realized he needed to teach Hawkins the finer points of fouling.
“He said, 'I know I said no-layup rule, but maybe the way you did it was a little wrong,'” said Hawkins, a rising junior at Our Lady of Good Counsel. “'Maybe you could've just acted like you were going to jump up and hit him and try to block the shot. But the way you ran at him was too crazy.'”
The play showed both the competitiveness of Hawkins, one of the area's most promising guards, and how much room he has to grow.
Before attending Good Counsel, Hawkins originally planned to play at Archbishop Carroll, where his dad served as an assistant coach. But a late coaching change before Hawkins' freshman year left his future uncertain.
He seriously had considered Good Counsel and had a cousin who attended and raved about the school, but because he already had chosen Carroll, it was too late to fill out all the necessary financial aid forms. Plus, his mom worked in Waldorf — the opposite direction of the Olney school from their home in Prince George's County.
“I was just like, 'You know what? Mom, I just think that maybe I can go to public school this year and then look at everything again the next year,'” Hawkins said. “I just wanted everything to be in place. I didn't want her to have go through a struggle getting me to school and worrying about tuition.”
So, with the intent of attending Good Counsel the next year, Hawkins enrolled at Friendly High in Fort Washington, where he played for Rob Garner, who guided the Patriots to two region titles in a four-season stint.
“It went really well,” Hawkins said. “I thought maybe it would've been a lot rougher, but we ended up being really good, and I got a lot out of the coaching there. … It really helped me get tougher, playing in that league.”
Hawkins considered staying at Friendly, but last year he told Garner he was leaving for Good Counsel. Shortly after, Garner left Friendly and took the job at Henry A. Wise in Upper Marlboro. Hawkins had avoided getting stuck again.
“He understands what the game of basketball can do for him,” said Parker, who now coaches Hawkins on D.C. Assault's 16-and-under gold team. “He's not letting it use him. He's using the game of basketball.”
Good Counsel coach Blair Mills, who recruited Hawkins entering ninth grade, was thrilled the guard was joining his team.
Each year, Mills holds a clinic for the area's top eighth-graders, and a couple years ago, that included Hawkins.
“It gives us an opportunity to work with the best kids in the area,” Mills said. “It's very rare that you have the kids that may end up at St. John's or the kids that may come to Good Counsel or Gonzaga, DeMatha — all those kids are in one gym. He was the most talented kid there.”
At Good Counsel, Hawkins has developed a specialty for making plays with the shot clock winding down. Capable of creating a shot for himself or a teammate, he really shines in those Washington Catholic Athletic Conference games, which, unlike Maryland public school games, use a shot clock.
“It came pretty easy to me,” Hawkins said. “Sometimes, I really don't even notice it. I just know when the clock's running down.”
That has given Hawkins — who has scholarship offers from Delaware and Fairfield and interest from George Mason, Marquette, Michigan, Indiana, Miami, Virginia, Villanova and West Virginia — a skill that many prospects can't showcase in high school games.
“Moving to our league really put him on the map,” Mills said.