By Keith Taylor, The Winchester Sun
RICHMOND — Minutes before he announced his college of choice Wednesday morning, Dominique Hawkins reached under the table and pulled out a University of Kentucky cap, ending speculation concerning his future plans. It was a moment he had been waiting for the lifelong Kentucky fan.
Hawkins kept the secret to himself, mother Denise and girlfriend Sara Shackelford for nearly a month. Hawkins admitted that it was hard to keep silent on his intentions, but he knew of three people in his inner circle who wouldn’t reveal the Wildcats had an offer waiting on the table a week after leading the Indians to the state title.
“They kept the secret,” he said. “I could trust them. (Madison Central coach Allen) Feldhaus already knew, so I didn’t have to tell him. They (my girlfriend and mom) were shocked. My mom was amazed they gave me an offer. She was proud of me and told me that she loved me.”
As soon as he lifted the cap from underneath the table, Hawkins breathed a sigh of relief. More than anything, Hawkins’ revelations on his plans to sign with the Wildcats lifted a burden off his shoulders and gave the Madison Central product and Mr. Basketball standout a chance to focus on his upcoming plans, which include appearances in the Derby Festival Classic at Freedom Hall in Louisville on April 19. In addition, Hawkins will compete against the best players from the Hoosier state in the annual Kentucky-Indiana All-Star series this summer.
Minutes after John Calipari offered Hawkins a scholarship after the Indians visited a practice session at the Joe Craft Center last month, Hawkins wasn’t sure what to make of the offer from the Kentucky coach.
“I had to think about it (at the time) to know if he did give me an offer, because he really didn’t say it,” he recalled. “After he left, I was like, ‘I think he (offered) me a scholarship. Then coach (Allen) Feldhaus told me that I had one.”
Even though Calipari had made the offer, Hawkins admitted that he “had a little thinking to do” when it came to other offers from instate schools such as Western Kentucky. If the Cats hadn’t made a the late push for Hawkins during Central’s successful run in the boys Sweet Sixteen, Hawkins likely would have landed in Bowling Green.
“I really did like Western, they had been really recruiting me hard,” he said. “It was the best recruiting they ever did on a kid. I appreciated what they did, but once Kentucky came (into the picture), it was kind of a no-brainer that I was going to go there.”
Hawkins has always been a Kentucky fan and remembers the Kentucky teams from the early 2000s, featuring Tayshaun Prince and Keith Bogans.
“I was a Keith Bogans fan,” he said. “I don’t know why, but I just liked the way he played and could shoot. And then Tayshaun, he definitely was one of my favorites, because of how long he was. Every time he dunked, I would go outside and tried to copy one of his dunks, because I idolized him so much. Those were probably my favorite Kentucky teams (while growing up).”