Marshall Hawkins, captain of the University of Tennessee basketball team in 1947-48, died on Thursday in his hometown of Huntingdon, W.Va. He was 86.
Mr. Hawkins, who played under coaches John Mauer and Emmett Lowery, had come to Tennessee on a football scholarship, but lettered in basketball and tennis while on campus. He played on the 1943 team that won the SEC tournament with a 33-30 win over Kentucky, the team's second SEC title in three seasons.
"He was one of those guys whose career was interrupted by World War II," said Ben Byrd, the former Knoxville Journal sports editor who first covered Tennessee basketball in 1947. "He was a very good player and leader, and was a good guy. He was a man the University of Tennessee should be proud of."
A center in his first three years at Tennessee (1942-43, 1945-46, 1946-47), Mr. Hawkins moved to forward in 1947-48, Lowery's first season in Knoxville, a season in which the Vols compiled a surprising 20-5 record, running Lowery's "fire engine" fast break to the delight of fans at Alumni Gym. It was the first 20-win season in Tennessee basketball history. Three of the losses that season were to Kentucky's NCAA champion "Fabulous Five."
Mr. Hawkins was a prep all-state selection in football and basketball in West Virginia, according to long-time friend Orvis Milner, a UT football letter winner in 1946 and 1947.
"He would've have probably played end," said Milner about Hawkins' football abilities. "He would have been awfully good. He was big and strong and could catch the ball.
"He had a great basketball career, at Tennessee and professionally. He was a good all-round person, who was the same every time you saw him."
After graduating from Tennessee, Mr. Hawkins played for the Oshkosh All-Stars and the Indianapolis Indiana Olympians professional basketball teams.
Mr. Hawkins was president and owner of Hawkins Tie and Lumber Company. He was an avid golfer and was past club champion at Guyan Golf and Country Club in Huntingdon.
He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Sara Ann, son James Marshall Hawkins Jr., and wife, Colleen of Marion, Va., son Greg Hawkins of Huntington, daughter Marsha Ann Moses of Huntington, and eight grandchildren.
Greg Hawkins played basketball at Tennessee during the 1970-71 season before transferring to North Carolina State. He was a member of the Wolfpack's national championship team in 1974.
Memorial services will be conducted today at 5 p.m. at the Enslow Park Presbyterian Church in Huntington, the Rev. Chris Perkins officiating.
Tom Mattingly is a freelance contributor.