Arnecia Hawkins made her presence felt and heard for ASU women's basketball

The slashing shooting guard was the Sun Devils' iron woman with a golden voice.

Balance is something that No. 9 ASU women's basketball prides itself on, and there's no greater example of that balance than senior guard Arnecia Hawkins.

Whether she starts or comes off the bench, Hawkins has been a key contributor to the success of this 24-4 Sun Devil team — oftentimes providing a scoring punch when ASU needs it most. Hawkins is second on the team in scoring at 9.5 points per game despite starting in only 16 of her 28 appearances.

It's no surprise that Hawkins has appeared in all 28 of ASU's games, either. Beyond the fundamentally sound shooting form and ability to find gaps in the opposing defense, durability is something that truly stands out about Hawkins's game. In her four years as a Sun Devil, she has yet to miss a game due to injury.

Hawkins credits the program's training staff as well as the workout regiment provided by the coaches for her clean bill of health.

"They can see what kind of workout we'll need, what will help and when we need to rest," she said. "It's nice to have the (coaches and trainers) be in tune with what we need."

For a player that drives the lane as much as Hawkins and draws so many fouls, 127 consecutive games is impressive. The emergence of Hawkins proved vital early in the season for ASU when it lost forwards Kelsey Moos and Sophie Brunner to various injuries. Versatility is a trait that goes hand in hand with her durability as well — she's third on the team in total assists and fourth in total rebounds.

That 10-game stretch where Hawkins started eight games in the absence of Brunner and/or Moos was where she really shined. Per the Sun Devil Athletics website, she led the team in scoring at 12.1 ppg during that stretch while shooting 52 percent from the floor. Over the week of Dec. 20, Hawkins won the Drysdale Women's National Player of the Week.

Outside of the realm of basketball, Hawkins is one of many shining personalities that makes this ASU team so unique. Head Coach Charli Turner Thorne has described this team as the most singing and dancing group she's ever been around, and Hawkins is on the front lines of that endeavor.

"There's never a dull moment, ever," Hawkins said with a laugh. "We spend every day together, and it just makes everything exciting and worthwhile. It's really special to be able to build lifelong friendships."

Balance may be this ASU team's calling card, but there are few other teams in the country with such a high level of connectedness and chemistry. There are no cliques on this team, — that is evident every time the Sun Devils step onto the court for a game or step off of it after a practice, laughing and dancing their way through a season with serious expectations while never losing sight of their goals.

Hawkins said she loves to sing and dance, and she's glad that her teammates do too so she doesn't have to do it alone.

"When we're on the road we love to sing on the bus," Hawkins said. "Someone will start making a beat or someone will start singing a song and before you know it we're in full chorus."

Whether they're jumping behind postgame interviews, stomping in unison and hitting the dab after a successful free throw or ringing the victory bell with rhythm and swagger, Turner Thorne said this senior class is a truly memorable one.

"Because of their love of the game and who they are, they just make it easy," Turner Thorne said. "We've got plenty of performers on this team — (Hawkins) every bit as much."

Support from Turner Thorne and chemistry with her Sun Devil teammates began for Hawkins while she was still in high school. As she led Mountain View High School to deep runs in the Arizona state tournament, Hawkins said she spent a lot of time around the ASU program during the recruiting process and eventually knew that her decision to sign was the best thing possible for her.

"I got to hang out with the team on visits and I always felt included," Hawkins said. "I'd get a sense of the family aspect that was created, and it was really awesome to see 12 or so girls become sisters away from home."

That Sun Devil sisterhood is losing five members at the end of this season to graduation, but Hawkins will always be remembered by her teammates as the unsung hero of this ASU team — even though she was constantly singing.

Related Links:

Elisha Davis brought devotion, charisma to ASU women's basketball

ASU women's basketball wins chippy matchup over Washington


Reach the reporter at rclarke6@asu.edu or follow @RClarkeASU on Twitter.

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