West Jordan • Porter Hawkins wasn't intimidated by the level of play at the varsity level because he has spent years playing against top-flight talent on the AAU circuit.
But the Copper Hills freshman admits playing in front of larger crowds and opponents' raucous student sections was a bit of an adjustment.
"It was nerve-racking," Hawkins said. "I've never been in something like this, with the crowd. But I got used to it kind of quick and went on from there."
He seems to be assimilating rather well four weeks into his first season for the Grizzlies. He leads the team in scoring (11.8 points per game) is second in rebounding and his offensive contributions have propelled Copper Hills to a 5-2 record entering the holiday break.
Hawkins, a ninth-grader at nearby Hawthorn Academy charter school, has scored in double figures in his past five games since coach Andrew Blanchard moved his center into the starting lineup.
"We knew he was a good player and we were excited about him, but we didn't want to throw him to the wolves, so to speak," said Blanchard, who is in his first year at Copper Hills. "But he worked hard and earned that starting spot, and he's gone from there."
Hawkins, who played a reserve role in the Grizzlies' first two games, scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds in his first start, which came against Herriman. He backed up that with 16 points against Lehi and 17 against Fremont both road games, both victories.
He had a team-high 10 points in a home loss to Syracuse last week, a game in which he struggled a bit against the size and skill of Titans 6-foot-8 senior center Daniel Pehrson.
"Him and the post from Kearns [Dayon Goodman] have been the toughest," Hawkins said. "I haven't really played against people who are bigger and lengthier than me. I just have to adjust in games to the height."
Still, against Syracuse, the Grizzlies' offense seemed to run smoothest when teammates got Hawkins the ball.
"He's had a lot of success in the past few games," Blanchard said. "We don't want to put too much pressure on one person in our offense, and he's a freshman. He's a great talent and we're excited about him."
Hawkins may be an inch or two shy of his listed 6-7 height, but he said doctors have told him he should reach 6-10 before he is done growing. He turns 15 on Jan. 4.
He already possesses quick, powerful post moves, and if his game continues to grow as well, he should be an elite center for years to come.
"He can shoot, he can post up," Blanchard said. "He hasn't quite exceeded our expectations yet because we have that bar set up pretty high and he's got four years to achieve it.
"Size is something we lack, and we have to focus on keeping him in the game."
Added Hawkins: "I'm just trying to get better all around. You can always improve."
Hawkins isn't the only freshman seeing significant playing time for Copper Hills. Guard Preston Sanchez, Hawkins' teammate on his Team Covington 14U travel team, also is in Blanchard's rotation.
"It puts pressure on the older kids to produce," Blanchard said about his two freshmen. "Our goal is to focus on our other kids playing better."
Copper Hills freshman center Porter Hawkins leads the Grizzlies in scoring at almost 12 points per game.
Hawkins, who scored 18 in his first start, has scored in double figures in each of the five games since moving into the starting lineup.
Hawkins, 14, is a student at Hawthorn Academy, a charter school in West Jordan.