Thursday, July 11, 2013
Former Hawk a top scorer in Brazil
By BARRY BURLESON
Kenny Dawkins, famous in his hometown from his basketball-playing days with the Hawks, is also making a name for himself on a much bigger stage.
The 2005 graduate of Holly Springs High School almost won a scoring title in the National Brazilian League last season. He averaged 18 points a game and did not play the entire year due to a fractured bone in his ankle. He missed a month and a half.
“I think if I had played the whole season, I would have won the scoring title,” said Dawkins, a point guard. “The person who won it averaged 20. The scoring title is definitely a goal this year – if I can stay healthy.”
Dawkins will be changing professional teams, going from Liga Sorocaba to Paulistano.
“They offered me a bigger contract,” he said, “and they have a good nucleus. I want to win a championship.”
Next season will be his fourth in Brazil, the largest country in South America and the only one where Portuguese, rather than Spanish, is spoken.
“I’ve adapted,” Dawkins said. “At first, I couldn’t speak the language. I was just playing basketball – not interacting with the community.”
But he learned to speak Portuguese in about six or seven months.
“I picked it up by asking players on the team,” Dawkins said. “Before I could speak it, I was able to write it first.
“Now I get out and get involved in the community – working with children.”
The NBA remains a goal for the 25-year-old, but Brazil is just fine, too.
“Every day I work out, I think about it (the NBA),” he said. “Hopefully, one day my chance will come. I just thank God for the opportunity I have now. He has blessed me.
“Professional basketball in Brazil is very competitive – a lot of American players and Brazilian players with a lot of experience. It’s not like you’re playing second or third division basketball. It’s a top league. Talent is very high. You’re playing against some of the best.”
Dawkins cherishes his days of growing up and playing basketball in Holly Springs. He played for coach Henry Hood at Holy Family and coach Naylond Hayes at Holly High.
“They made me a better person and a better player,” he said.
He is also very thankful to his mother, Wanda Dawkins, and his father, Kenneth Crawford, for their love and support.
They have not been able to go to Brazil to see him play professionally.
“I’m hoping my mom can come over for Christmas (this year) and see a couple of games,” Dawkins said. “My dad says he will not ever get on a plane.”
He returns to Brazil this week for training camp. As he joins a new team, he is relocating from Sorocaba to Sao Paulo, the largest city in Brazil and one of the largest in the world.
There are two seasons in Brazil – a state championship season from August to November and then a national championship season from November to June.
“I’m comfortable where I am,” Dawkins said about playing so far from home. “The pay is good, and on top of that, I’m doing something I love to do.”
Dawkins was a star player for Holly High, helping lead the Hawks to back-to-back state championships in 2004 and 2005.
When he comes home to visit, he’s still a star.
“A lot of the younger guys want my picture with them and autographs,” Dawkins said. “That’s why I have to watch my behavior; you never know who’s looking.”
Next summer he hopes to hold a basketball camp in Holly Springs with Clevin Hannah, a former high school teammate who is playing professional basketball in France.
“We want to help the younger guys – give back to the community as best as we can,” Dawkins said.
After graduating from Holly High, he played at Arizona Western College and Lamar University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in coaching. He played in the NBA Development League, with the Rio Grande Vipers for one year.
When his playing days are over, he plans to coach.
“I want to stay close to basketball – it’s a passion,” he said. “I have to stay close to the game.”
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