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By KEITH TAYLOR, Winchester Sun
RICHMOND — It’s no secret Dominique Hawkins wanted to play basketball at the University of Kentucky. This morning, the Madison Central standout made it official after announcing his plans to sign with the Wildcats in front of his family, friends and classmates during an assembly at the school.
Hawkins turned down offers from Purdue, South Carolina, Tennessee Tech, Valparasio, Western Kentucky, Murray State and Morehead State to sign with Kentucky. Butler coach Brad Stevens showed interest in Hawkins earlier this week, but Hawkins already had Kentucky penciled in as his school of choice. Louisville coach Rick Pitino offered Hawkins a prefered status as a walk-on. The Cardinals defeated Michigan to win the school’s third national championship Monday night at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
By that time Hawkins had already made up his mind.
Hawkins said he received a scholarship offer the week after he led Madison Central to the school’s first state title. The Wildcats visited the State Capital and later visited a Kentucky practice session on March 12.
“It’s a a big relief,” Hawkins said after making his choice publicly known. “So much relief was off of me once I (made the announcement). It was so much better once I let it out.”
Hawkins said he received the offer from Kentucky coach John Calipari following the visit to the Joe Craft Center.
“I was shocked,” recalled. “
Hawkins joins a recruiting class that features six McDonald’s All-Americans. Twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, Julius Randle and Derek Willis have already signed with Kentucky. Last week, Alex Poythress, Willie Cauley-Stein and Kyle Wiltjer announced they would return next season. Archie Goodwin has opted to enter the NBA Draft, while Ryan Harrow will transfer to Georgia State after the current semester ends.
“I’m going to compete as hard as I can,” Hawkins said. “Whatever coach Cal wants me to do, I am going to do it. Anything I can do to help the team, I am going to just do it. The practices are going to be more competitive than the games. There is so much talent on the team and everybody is great. I’m just looking forward to playing with them.”
Hawkins was named Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball after leading the Indians to a 32-5 record and the school’s first state title last month. The Wildcats began showing interest in Hawkins during the boys Sweet Sixteen at Rupp Arena. Kentucky coach John Calipari attended three games, while assistant coach Orlando Antigua watched all four of Central’s games in the five-day state tournament.
During the Indians’ successful run in the state event, Hawkins tallied 107 points in four games for an average of 26.4 points per game, and was named the tournament’s most valuable player. The senior guard scored 21 points and had 10 rebounds in the Indians’ exciting 65-64 triumph over Ballard in the state finals.
He also was named the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year after averaging 20.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.8 steals per game during his senior campaign.
Hawkins will compete in the Ohio-Kentucky All-Star game this weekend at Thomas More College. He is the first Madison Central player to ink with the Wildcats since Marquis Estill, his cousin, signed a scholarship after leading the Indians to the Sweet Sixteen in 1999.