SMITHFIELD, RI. — The Northeast Conference tends to see its fair share of talent transfer to bigger programs across the NCAA, and while players do transfer into the conference, they aren’t necessarily the biggest names out there.
On Sunday, the Bryant Bulldogs added a graduate transfer who has NCAA Tournament experience, and brings with him a wealth of experience that can help the Bulldogs right away in 2018-19.
Towards the end of April, junior guard Byron Hawkins was granted his release from the Murray State Racers, where he spent the last two seasons. Prior to his time with the Racers, Hawkins played two seasons with the Towson Tigers, where he emerged as a star in 2015-16 as a sophomore.
Now, Hawkins will take his talents to the state of Rhode Island, where he will join an intriguing core group at Bryant in the Northeast Conference.
CBS Insider Jon Rothstein was the first to break the news on Twitter.
Hawkins, a 6’1” guard from Aalborg, Denmark, is the first big commitment for new Bulldogs head coach Jared Grasso. He was named the head coach at Bryant at the beginning of April, and brings with him a wealth of experience from his time with the Iona Gaels under Tim Cluess.
Last season with the Racers, Hawkins averaged 7.2 points and 1.3 rebounds per game as a junior. He saw action in 30 contests, and averaged 18.7 minutes of action per night out. Hawkins was one of eight players to appear in at least 30 games last season for Murray State.
The Racers advanced to the 2018 NCAA Tournament as the Ohio Valley Conference champions, and drew the West Virginia Mountaineers in the First Round. While the Racers saw their season come to an end with an 85-68 loss, Hawkins put up eight points on 3-of-6 shooting.
Three years ago, Hawkins emerged as a star at Towson. As a sophomore with the Tigers, Hawkins averaged 13.2 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game, all of which are career-high marks. From there, he moved onto Murray State, where he got to experience the NCAA Tournament and win a conference tournament championship.
Hawkins joins an intriguing core group at Bryant that features the likes of Adam Grant, Ikenna Ndugba, and Sabastian Townes. The trio finished as the Bulldogs’ top three scorers as a season ago despite all being sophomores. The addition of a veteran like Hawkins will provide the younger players with some additional leadership, while also giving Grasso a veteran player that he can lean on as he begins his first season as the head coach at Bryant.
– T. Bennett