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Kentucky Basketball Preview: Dominique Hawkins

What will the senior guard bring to this year’s promising backcourt?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Kentucky vs Stony Brook Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

#25 Dominique Hawkins

Height: 6'0”

Weight: 190

Position: G

Year: Senior

High School: Madison Central High School

Hometown: Richmond, KY

Career Highlights:

*Excelled as a defensive specialist, usually against the other team’s best scorer, in the 2014 Final Four run.

*Scored a career high of 13 points, including 3 three-pointers, in a win against rival Louisville in his junior season.

*According to results of physical testing from the UK combine, Hawkins had the best no-step vertical leap (37 inches), best maximum vertical leap (44.5 inches), best 185-pound bench press (16 repetitions), and was tied for third in the three-quarters-court sprint (3.18 seconds).

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As the first Mr. Kentucky Basketball recruited by John Calipari, hopes were high and expectations were low for Dominique Hawkins when he committed to the Wildcats. However, he has found a way to contribute on each team despite being surrounded by future lottery picks.

Coming off of an injury riddled junior campaign, Hawkins’ role on the team looks to be bigger than ever. His role as a lock down defender will again play a key role come tournament time. And something many people do not recognize is the freakish ability he brings to this young group filled with physical specimens.

If you look at the DraftExpress.com results of physical testing for this team, you may expect Bam Adebayo or De’Aaron Fox to jump off of the page. But it is Hawkins that they refer to as “one of the most freakish athletes in all of college basketball.”

His strength and agility stand out, even among this group of MonStars. Even more interesting is that his vertical leap (44.5 inches) is “on par with the best marks ever posted at the NBA Draft Combine.”

Hawkins also has a slew of young guards looking up to him to learn from his experience and his toughness. Known as a “character guy,” his presence with Fox, Malik Monk, and even sophomore Isaiah Briscoe cannot be overstated. He stays out of trouble, he performs in the classroom, and he has more experience playing with NBA players than any other player in the country.

“I feel like the biggest strengths I can bring is probably defense and leadership,” Hawkins said, via CoachCal.com. “Being a defensive player – at Kentucky I’ve been known as a great defensive player. I’ve guarded tremendous players since I’ve been here. I just need to let the other guys like the freshmen know that defense is key to win games. I remember my sophomore year when we were going undefeated our defense was incredible. That’s what got us there.”

Think about it. During his three seasons at UK, Hawkins has played every day with and against Andrew and Aaron Harrison, Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, and Jamal Murray. He has been to two Final Fours playing against the best teams in the nation. There is not another resume in college basketball that comes close to that.

The experience and lessons he has to share with this young crew of guards will be vital to their development and can play a key role in their chemistry.

“Being able to guard people like that is making me better, and also making them better as an offensive player,” Hawkins said in regards to the freshmen guards,. “As we play pickup games each and every day, everybody is getting even better I feel like, and we learn more about each other, on the court and off the court.”

And if De’Aaron Fox is now able to play the go-to defender role, perhaps Hawkins will be free to show us more of this vertical that has been bringing Rupp Arena to its feet since his first game as a Wildcat.

“My confidence I feel like is sky high right now,” Hawkins said. “I’ve been in the gym a lot. I’ve been shooting the ball well, getting to the rack and shooting floaters. That’s probably when I’m at my best. And I’ve been playing great defense on these guys. Hopefully it will carry on into the season.”

Let’s hope we get to see Hawkins finish out his UK career in style while cutting down some more nets.