Tianna Hawkins Triumphs In AU Basketball’s Finale

Hawkins emerged victorious in a season that served as a joyful celebration of women’s basketball.

By Alexandra Cadet

After five weeks of nonstop hooping, AU’s inaugural basketball season is over––and with its conclusion, a winner has been crowned. Tianna Hawkins ended Week 5 on top of the leaderboard, capping off what has been a watershed season for her development as a player.

A Worthy Victor

Interestingly, Hawkins didn’t lead the final tally in terms of points scored; DiJonai Carrington bagged 361 to her 357. But Hawkins made up the difference with plenty of rebounds––and a large focus on team chemistry. As a captain, she gave her squad ample rest and playing time; in fact, every member of her roster saw the court during their Week 5 match against Team Harrison. 

“Playing as a team is gonna get you those wins… I’m big on team first,” she said after the game. In a league where individual exploits are what lead to success, Hawkins triumphed by prioritizing her fellow athletes. That makes her both a unique and worthy champion.

Don’t Count the Athletes Out

Another takeaway from the final standings also relates to Hawkins––and is something that the WNBA should take note of. Hawkins struggled immensely in 2021, and only averaged 4.9 points and 3.1 rebounds for the Atlanta Dream; this led to her being waived and making a return to the Washington Mystics last month. But there was no denying her quality over the past five weeks. She was arguably the best big in the league, setting multiple records and showing that she wasn’t “past it” like her critics and franchise suggested. 

Of course, giving up on players after poor seasons is pretty common in the WNBA. But doesn’t this process overlook athletes like Hawkins, who went from Atlanta reject to AU champion? Or Tasha Cloud, who cruised to second after a season-long break from the WNBA? Or even Kalani Brown, who got waived by the Dream in 2021 only to sneak into the top five? Let their AU stints be a lesson to WNBA teams and fans alike: never fully count a player out, even after bumps in the road.

Bringing the Fun Back to Basketball

Now that the dust has settled, it’s safe to say that AU Basketball’s opening salvo was a success. Not only did the minds behind it inject new life into women’s hoops, but they also conducted one of the best sports-related marketing campaigns in recent memory. Mailbags, inventive camerawork, an easy-to-use app…all of these tools made it easy and enjoyable to connect with both the league and the women at its center. Since Season 2 has been confirmed, we can look forward to connecting with these talented athletes again soon. But for now, let’s celebrate Tianna Hawkins’s triumph––and revel in the fun that AU’s brought back to basketball.

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  1. AU was the most fun I ever had as a fan. I even traveled to Las Vegas to experience the mayhem.

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