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By LARRY VAUGHT
RICHMOND — Dominique Hawkins might not be a McDonald’s All-American, but the Madison Central guard is not coming to Kentucky thinking he’s only going to play a limited role on a star-studded roster.
“He believes he is going to play next year,” said Madison Central coach Allen Feldhaus. “He may not show it, but he’s confident he can compete and play. He’s not going to back down.”
He proved that when he played against Texas twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison, both UK signees, in the Marshall County Hoop Fest early in the season. He had 29 points in that game and kept Central in the game with the eventual Class 5A state champion.
“In our biggest games, he shined the most,” Feldhaus said. “Before the state tournament (when he led Madison Central to the state title), I am not sure most people in the state had a clue how good he was. I truly believe, and I think Cal (UK coach John Calipari) would agree, that when Cal developed an interest in him it was a feel-good story. He was a Kentucky kid with a chance to be Mr. Basketball and he was doing us a favor recruiting him. After watching him play, I could tell Cal was truly excited and then it was like we were doing him a favor with the way Dominique played and competed. That is what my dad (Allen Jr.) and brother (Deron), both former Kentuck players, told me you just could not appreciate him until you got to see him night in, night out. Cal watched him three state games and got it.”
Hawkins said Calipari told him he would be “able to compete for a spot and see what happens” next season.
“I take pride in my intensity and that is what makes the team special. I’ve got to be a leader. The point guard has to be a leader and help out not just during games, but also in practice,” Hawkins said.
Andrew Harrison is the nation’s top-ranked point guard. Aaron Harrison is the top-ranked shooting guard. But Hawkins says both players have the same versatility he does to do multiple things to help a team win.
“It is going to be an honor to play with them. They are both very talented and practicing with them will make me better and I will try to make them better,” Hawkins said. “It will be tough, but also fun. The thing about having them as teammates is that they can get any player involved in the game. You don’t have to do much when you play with them because they help their teammates. I think I do that. We are all versatile. I will be in the gym working on my shooting and game, but I think I can do things, too, to help the team.”
Hawkins got a dose of what being a Wildcat is like after making his college choice public Wednesday at a school assembly. He did several live radio show interviews as well as numerous TV and newspaper interviews.
“He did an unbelievable job at the press conference and I am not sure how many teachers came up to me to compliment him,” Feldhaus said. “He’s not the most talkative guy, and some people were shocked by the good job he did. But he’s got a lot of experience this yer. We’ve had a lot of media coverage in big events and I think he enjoyed today and understands that’s how it will be now.
“I really think UK fans are going to fall in love with him. Many already have not because of his talent, but the way he is every day with the way he carries himself and handles himself. You can’t help but love him.”
Hawkins got a dose of the “Kentucky love” even at school.
“Everybody was patting me on the back. I was signing autographs and posing for a lot of pictures. I feel kind of famous,” he joked. “If that’s what it will be like next year, it will be fun.”
What’s more fun, though, is competing. That’s what he enjoys. He’ll play in the Kentucky-Ohio All-Star Game Saturday and the Derby Classic April 19. He’ll compete in the Kentucky-Indiana all-star series in June.
“It’s not hard for me to be excited for those games. I am going to be playing with some great players. I will be playing with guys I don’t know, and I like doing that,” Hawkins said. “The Kentucky-Indiana series is the longest all-star game in the country. That is big deal for us and we want to end that (losing) streak against them.”
He was so busy Wednesday — and so secretive the last month not letting word out that he had a scholarship offer from UK — that he also has one more thing to do soon.
“I haven’t got a lot of Kentucky gear yet. I have to go do that for sure,” he said.
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Hawkins will join us on WLAP (630 AM) at 9:30 a.m. Sunday. Listen and you won’t be disappointed.