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Dominique Hawkins draws high praise from Kenny Payne

It sounds like Hawk is getting an even bigger role with this team going forward, perhaps even starting.

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Even amid the Kentucky Wildcats’ struggles this season, one of the true bright spots has consistently been the rise of Dominique Hawkins.

The senior guard from Richmond, Kentucky has finally taken on a pivotal role with his home-state Wildcats, who are also maturing into a legit Final Four contender thanks in part to his contributions.

On Monday, associate head coach Kenny Payne offered up some strong support of Hawkins, who it sounds like is getting an even bigger role with this team going forward.

“I can’t begin to tell you how happy we are all with Dominique as coaches,” Payne said. “Dominique Hawkins brings a little something different, more energy at times, defensive toughness at times. Lately, he’s been our best on-ball defender. He deserves this, and he shouldn’t take second fiddle to any player on this team because he’s just as good. He’s playing that way.”

Without Hawkins, Kentucky likely loses at Georgia this past Saturday, and they may have even lost at Alabama the previous week. His timely contributions on offense and defense have been critical in stopping the Wildcats’s slide, which saw them lose three out of four games.

It’s safe to think Hawkins’ minutes will be increasing when Kentucky takes on Missouri and Florida this week. I wouldn’t put it past John Calipari to give Hawkins a start vs the Tigers on Tuesday. He’s more than earned it, especially with how poorly Isaiah Briscoe has played lately.