Hawks University? A term used by some to describe team’s player development

102715 ATLANTA: -- Hawks owner Tony Ressler (left) talks with general manager Wes Wilcox as the team prepares to play their first regular season basketball game "home opener" against the Pistons on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015, in Atlanta.  Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Hawks owner Tony Ressler (left) talks with general manager Wes Wilcox as the team prepares to play a game on Oct. 27, 2015, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

The Hawks player development system has been dubbed by some as ‘Hawks University’ for its successes. I’m not sure who coined the phrase (or I would give proper credit) but it has come up in my dealings with the team in recent years.

When I was working on the Tim Hardaway Jr. trade story that ran in Sunday’s edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, I asked general manager Wes Wilcox about the term. I was just curious whether those in the organization had heard it used. Hardaway is the most successful case study in what the Hawks have been able to do with young players. You could certainly include Kent Bazemore and Dennis Schroder in the list of successes. There have been some players that have not worked out but by in large the Hawks player development is seen around the league as a strength.

Here is what Wilcox said about the term Hawks University: “We’ve heard rumors. It’s humbling to be referenced in that way. But really, (Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer) has really set the tone for us in that our goal every day is to just get better whether it’s in the front office, whether it’s on the court, whether it’s in athletic performance. That really has permeated all of basketball operations and maybe the organization as a whole. We come in every day with the mindset that we are going to get a little bit better today. We are going to work our butts off. I don’t hear it all. It’s flattering but we just keep our heads down and keep on working.”

Incidentally, I asked Budenholzer about the term earlier this month but he said he had never heard it used.

Changes to the organization have shown a bent toward player development, including recent and to-come changes to Philips Arena, a new practice facility, the future addition of an NBA Development League team and the frequent use of the league to get valuable minutes for young players.

Just something left over from my notebook that I thought I would share since the Hawks are off Monday before returning to host the Pelicans on Tuesday. The game will precede a five-game, eight-day trip with games against the Pacers, Jazz, Lakers, Warriors and Suns.

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