By LARRY VAUGHT
No one was happier than Dominique Hawkins when he found out that twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison, two players he competes with for playing time, were returning to Kentucky for their sophomore seasons.
“With them back, it takes pressure off me,” said Hawkins Thursday during a press conference to discuss his recent SportsReach trip to China. “If they did not come back, I would have had to play a lot of minutes. I want to play, but I can just come in and play relaxed. They are great leaders and good teammates.
“I am glad they came back … I am glad everybody came back, not just the twins. We have a special team and want to do something we didn’t finish last year.”
Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress, Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee all weighed NBA options before deciding to stay at UK like the Harrisons did. Hawkins said the only big surprise to him was Cauley-Stein, who was projected as a lottery pick in the NBA draft.
Now they are all back on campus along with incoming freshmen Trey Lyles, Devin Booker, Tyler Ulis and Karl Towns Jr. Last year the Harrison twins and James Young, who did leave for the draft along with Julius Randle, were not on campus during the summer months.
“It is going to make us a better team,” Hawkins said of everyone being on campus this summer. “Team chemistry definitely needed that. We all need to know how each other plays. It will definitely help them (the freshmen) go get to know us and for us to know them. On the basketball court, you can’t just run out there.”
Hawkins said he hadn’t been around the freshmen much yet, but that will change.
“We will get around each other a bunch,” the sophomore guard said.
However, he knows what message he’ll have for the new players.
“Get ready for anything coach Cal (John Calipari) says against you. Just be patient with coach Cal. You never know what is going to happen,” Hawkins said. “I can’t tell them much because I am only a sophomore. I can tell them as much as I learned last year.”