UNLV quick hits:

Rebel senior speaks at middle school in between games

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Courtesy of Lois and Jerry Tarkanian Middle School

UNLV senior guard Justin Hawkins poses with members of the Lois and Jerry Tarkanian Middle School Lady Shark basketball team and their coaches Thursday, January 31, 2013. Hawkins spoke at the school in front of nearly 500 eighth graders and faculty.

Two days after UNLV defeated UNR and two days before the Rebels hit the road against Boise State, senior guard Justin Hawkins talked to a bleacher full of eighth graders about leadership.

“Sometimes being a leader means being a follower,” Hawkins told nearly 500 people in the gymnasium at Lois and Jerry Tarkanian Middle School on Thursday morning.

Hawkins came to the school at the behest of student body President Brandon Rainbolt, who had been trying to get the Rebel to speak to his eighth-grade class since the Scarlet/Gray Showcase in October.

Rainbolt saw Hawkins’ 899-word Twitter manifesto on Oct. 4 and decided he wanted to use his position to bring in Hawkins, who completed his undergraduate degree in three years and is in a master's program.

“He’s just a great example of a student-athlete,” Rainbolt said.

Balancing school and basketball was the crux of the conversation for Hawkins, who’s on a quasi farewell tour with visits like this. A member of UNLV’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Hawkins is often the face of the program for community outreach events like this. He admitted to being a bit nervous, though, as this was the biggest crowd he could remember speaking to.

Hawkins scored points with the faculty for that first quote, which he explained means listening to teachers and parents or authority figures who are trying to help. And while the autograph and photo session is probably what most kids will talk about in the hallways, Hawkins did his best to impart some wisdom, including valuing the time management skills that have saved his life in college and understanding that the path to success starts early. Like, say, the eighth grade.

“Put your energy into something positive,” he said.

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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  1. Every team needs a guy like Justin Hawkins.