Kentucky Basketball: Analyzing the Dominique Hawkins Commitment

USA TODAY Sports

In case you missed it, Madison Central star and Kentucky Mr. Basketball Dominique Hawkins committed to the Kentucky Wildcats today. This is a very Good Thing™, for reasons which I shall now elucidate.

Now that Dominique Hawkins is officially a Wildcat, let’s take a quick look at what he brings to the table for next year’s team. As with all recruits, this is somewhat speculative based on the fact that his high school system was quite a bit different than what he’ll be looking at in college, but speculation is what we do here.

Hawkins is a very athletic player, and at 6’1", he has been playing more of a shooting guard position at Madison Central. He’ll probably want to transition over to the point at Kentucky, which he should be able to do, and that is, quite frankly, where we need him the most. As of now, with Ryan Harrow transferring to Georgia St. and Archie Goodwin heading off to the NBA, Kentucky was without down to Jarrod Polson as backup point guard.

Hawkins is perfect for that position. He’s a good ballhandler and a pretty good perimeter shooter. He passed the ball very well for coach Allen Feldhaus, and was used to initiate the offense sometimes, although he mostly played off the ball.

The biggest knock against Hawkins is his size. At 6’1", he is very small for a Calipari guard, particularly as an off guard. He is athletic enough to make up for that size deficit somewhat, but as almost everyone knows by now, Calipari likes big guards for all kinds of good reasons. Still, he is nearly as tall as Ryan Harrow, and much longer and more explosive than Harrow was. Hawkins can finish at the rim effortlessly with two hands, and has an athletic profile similar to Marquis Teague.

Most of Hawkins’ points in high school came off slashes to the rim. He is a solid shooter, but he preferred to get his points in transition and from attacking the basket. He has an aggressive style that is excellent for Kentucky’s offense, but he’ll have to learn to do things a little differently against college athletes where his athletic advantage is much smaller, or even absent altogether.

Hawkins is unlikely to be a breakout star, but what he will do is accept coaching from day one and play fundamentally sound basketball. He isn’t going to be asked to step in and run the team next year – that’s Andrew Harrison’s job to lose – but he will get backup minutes, probably in a similar vein to what Kyle Wiltjer got as a freshman.

The transition to the point will be the main thing, and some guards, for instance Tony Delk, are not able to make that change. I think Hawkins can, because Feldhaus’ system allowed him to initiate the offense, and he was an unselfish player by nature, dishing the rock quite often rather than trying to finish when well-defended. It can be dicey doing this, but Hawkins is one I expect to be able to learn the nuances of running the team.

Hawkins is also known to be a high-character person, and combined with the excellent coaching he received in high school and his humble but aggressive nature, it would not surprise me to see Hawkins develop into a team leader very soon – perhaps not next year, but soon. Hawkins is not likely to draw professional attention for some time, if ever, due to his size, so you can look for him to be at Kentucky for at least three and probably four years. Peyton Siva from Louisville’s team this year are good models for Hawkins to consider – a tough defender who can get into the lane, dish, and finish.

All in all, Hawkins is likely to be the guy that gets the most praise from UK’s high school All-American class next year, because he’s really going to challenge them in practice. He’s exactly the kind of guy that Andrew Harrison needs to have dogging his every step in practice, it will make Harrison and Hawkins much better players.

So, welcome to Dominique Hawkins. Now if Andrew Wiggins will come, this will be a long and happy summer as we await the 2013-14 campaign, which should be the most memorable since… well, either 1996 or 1978, take your pick.

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