From the opening game of the 2018 regular season, to the Lee’s Summit North 72-59 win over Francis Howell in the Class 5 third-place state basketball game in Springfield, it’s been a wild ride for Broncos senior guard Javaunte Hawkins.

“It’s been an amazing season,” said Hawkins, who is The Examiner’s 2018-19 Boys Basketball Player of the Year. “The only way it could have been better would have been if we had won state.

“But we at least won our last game – that third-place game – and I have so many memories. And they are memories that will last a lifetime.”

The 5-foot-9 senior guard scored 24 points on 8-of-17 shooting in the third-place game, and broke Jibran Kelley’s school records for career points (1,653, beating Kelley’s 1,633) and single-season points (788 to 494).

“The thing that makes Javaunte so special is that he works so hard to make it look so easy,” said longtime Broncos coach Mike Hilbert, who predicted long before the season started that Hawkins would be a dominant player, despite his 5-9 frame.

“He was a team player, first, a great leader and a great young man. He would have been the happiest player on the court if he didn’t score a point and we won the game – but that never happened.

Hawkins averaged 25.4 points, 2.6 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals a game. He shot shot 39.4 percent from field, 36.6 percent from 3-point range and was an 89.2 percent shooter from the free-throw line.

“He just has a special talent and I feel so fortunate to have been his coach the past four years,” Hilbert added. “I’ve seen him grow on, and off the court. He is a special young man. And he is so deserving of this honor.”

He was a finalist for the DiRenna Award, which goes to the top player in the metro area, and he was selected to the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association’s Class 5 all-state team in addition to all-district and All-Suburban Big Six Conference honors.

When congratulated on being named The Examiner’s Player of the Year, Hawkins had a question: “Did Mikel make the team?”

He was referring to his longtime friend and backcourt mate Mikel Henderson, who joined Hawkins on The Examiner’s 2018-2019 All-Area team with a 15.9 points-per-game average.

“There was so much talent in the area last year and it’s great to get an honor like this and it’s even better to share it with my teammate and friend,” Hawkins said. “It’s all like a dream come true, although a few years ago, I could never dream about being a player of the year or anything like that. I knew with Coach Hilbert, we’d be a good team, and he helped make us a great team.

“And he has done so many things to help me as a player and as a person. I just feel so blessed that so many people have noticed how hard I have worked to make myself a better player and person and now, I am getting some recognition and it feels so good.”