UK’s Hawkins will have opportunities to play pro ball — and the NFL is calling, too

Dominique Hawkins: End of my career, but I have a bright future

Kentucky senior Dominique Hawkins was disappointed with the loss to North Carolina but proud of what the team accomplished.
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Kentucky senior Dominique Hawkins was disappointed with the loss to North Carolina but proud of what the team accomplished.

The day before his final home game as a Kentucky Wildcat, senior guard Dominique Hawkins was asked if he expected to be playing basketball somewhere next season.

“I definitely want to,” he responded. “That’s one of my dreams.”

According to DraftExpress.com analyst Jonathan Givony, the UK fan favorite will have an opportunity to fulfill that dream.

“He’s going to have a good market for himself in Europe, for sure,” said Givony, who spent some time with Hawkins earlier this month in Los Angeles, where he’s been working on his game for the past few weeks as he turns his attention to a pro career.

Hawkins is not projected to be selected in next month’s NBA Draft, but he does have a bright basketball future, nonetheless.

The former Madison Central standout — and the state’s 2013 Mr. Basketball — emerged as a pivotal player in the Wildcats’ run to the Elite Eight this past season. He’s been arguably the most popular player in Rupp Arena over the last four seasons, and John Calipari referred to him as “Old Reliable” late in his senior campaign.

“He is a fierce competitor,” the UK coach said in February. “He’s tough as nails. He will come up with (loose balls). Any 50/50 ball, he’s getting. And offensively, he’s gotten better each year.”

His height — Hawkins has measured at 6-feet tall at UK’s pro combines — limits his NBA appeal, but Givony, who praised Hawkins’ grit and demeanor, said he expects plenty of interest from overseas.

“I don’t want to oversell this by saying he’s going to make $100,000 in the EuroLeague next year, but he’s going to have some teams in France or Germany or Italy or whatever that will appreciate what he does,” Givony told the Herald-Leader this week. “They will have watched him before. He finished the year off well, and he definitely showed some things.

“And also when they talk to people and realize what a high-character guy he is. He’s going to be a really good role player at the mid-level of Europe, I think.”

Hawkins’ athleticism is also drawing attention, from unlikely places.

He registered a 44.5-inch vertical leap in each of UK’s pro combines — that’s the same number that Hamidou Diallo turned in at the NBA Combine last week — and UK fans have become accustomed to his athletic plays over the years, especially on defense.

Givony said that he’s heard some NFL teams have been calling Hawkins about possibly trying out a career on the football field. Madison Central Coach Allen Feldhaus Jr. confirmed to the Herald-Leader that Hawkins has indeed heard from NFL teams in recent weeks — his football potential, particularly as a defensive back, has been mentioned before — but basketball is the long-term goal for the time being.

Hawkins will continue to work out in California — he and former teammate De’Aaron Fox have the same agent — and wait to see who’s interested in his services.

Givony expects there to be plenty of teams that would love to have a Kentucky Wildcat on their squad.

“All of these coaches in Europe, they obsess over the big-time college coaches,” he said. “They’ll read anything that John Calipari will write. Any coaching clinic, instructional video. Rick Pitino, Coach K, Tom Izzo — they worship these dudes. They just can’t wait to get their hands on a guy from one of those programs.”

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