By LARRY VAUGHT
He’s never had a chance to play a lot of minutes consistently at Kentucky because of players like Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harris, Devin Booker, Tyler Ulis, Jamal Murray, De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk.
But often when senior Dominique Hawkins has got a chance to play, he’s delivered big plays. He did in the 2014 NCAA Tournament with his play against Michigan and Louisville. He did it last season with a big game in a win over Louisville.
He did it again Saturday with clutch second-half points in a win at Alabama. Tuesday night in a win over Tennessee, he had 10 points, four rebounds and two assist.
Kentucky coach John Calipari said Hawkins’ play has been no surprise to him.
“I’ll tell you why. Because he is a fierce competitor, he’s tough as nails, he will come up with — any 50/50 ball, he’s getting — and offensively he’s gotten better each year. So, yes, he’s like Old Reliable. You know you can go to him, he can play point guard, he can play off guard, if you want him to guard a big man he’ll go rebound,” Calipari said.
“I’m proud of Dom. Really, how about ball pressure? If we’re not pressuring, you put him in. He’s going to be energy. He’s going to be on the ball.”
Hawkins just laughed when he heard that Calipari had called him “Old Reliable” while praising him after the game.
“Definitely on the defensive end, my pressure on the ball and getting defensive rebounds and getting steals. And on the offensive end, driving, getting the other people involved, getting to my floater, hitting the open shot,” Hawkins said about why he’s reliable.
He says he waits his turn and family members often remind him to be patient.
“When you’re a patient person, good things will come for you. And I know every time when I get in I’m going to play my hardest. So I want to stay out on the court,” he said.
He played 24 minutes Tuesday. That was two more than Isaiah Briscoe played. Getting those type of minutes is what motivates Hawkins.
“Not being on the bench. I don’t want to be on the bench at all. I never was used to it until I came to college, so I just don’t want to be on the bench at all,” he said.
He understood the competition he would face when he came to Kentucky. He knew going against the best players daily would make him better.
“I definitely want to play with the best players because that’s the only way to make it to the national championship. If you have the best team, you’re going to make it far into the NCAA Tournament. And that’s what I want to do,” he said.
Often he gets told that he would be playing more minutes at other schools. That doesn’t bother him.
“Kentucky was always my go-to school and I’m so glad I came here. The four years I’ve been here have been a blessing for me. I wouldn’t want to be at any other school other than here,” he said. “Coach Cal knows what my role is and I know what my role is as well. Being able to play for Coach Cal is an honor. He’s a Hall of Fame coach.”