He’s not the biggest guy on the team. He’s not the fastest guy on the team. He’s not the most athletic guy on the team. He wasn’t a McDonald’s All-American; college coaches weren’t knocking his door down in high school; and there were 192 other basketball prospects ranked ahead of him in his graduating class. Hell, Coach Cal didn’t even get his name right after the Providence game. But, dammit, I love me some Dominique Hawkins.
The kid from Richmond, a lifelong fan of the Cats, has done more this season than any of us ever imagined. Expectations of him couldn’t have been lower entering the season; he was just the “Kentucky boy” we were thrilled to see get an offer, a guy we said “might” contribute by the time he’s a junior or senior.
But Dominique Hawkins didn’t settle for the local kid role when he was handed his University of Kentucky basketball jersey. Dominique Hawkins took his jersey and went to work, setting the example in the gym for those “one-and-done” guys in front of him. He wasn’t intimidated by his competition in practice when they all arrived on campus. He didn’t come to Lexington to hold a clipboard, grab a water, or collect the towels. Dominique Hawkins came here to play, and Dominique Hawkins is playing. He’s playing his ass off.
If you only go by box scores, no, Dominique Hawkins hasn’t made many contributions this season. He’s averaging 1.5 points, 1.1 rebounds, and 0.8 assists through 12 games. But if you watched those 12 games, you know Dominique Hawkins makes his presence known on both ends of the floor. Whether it’s D’ing up when the Harrisons aren’t, diving on the floor for a loose ball, or keeping the ball alive for someone else to grab an offensive rebound, Hawkins is doing all the little things that everyone should be doing. He plays with heart on every single possession, never taking a play off or resting back on his heels. We saw that again last night against Louisville, and all of us, his coach included, noticed.
“Dominique went in and made two or three plays just by hustle next to the goal,” Coach Cal said in his postgame press conference. “Now, why aren’t my 6’6′ guards doing that? He’s in there, just fighting like crazy, and it’s a great lesson for us. You know, because if we can get our whole team playing that way, we become pretty good.”
“Pretty good” is an understatement. If the other, more talented guys played with half of the energy and passion Dominique Hawkins exudes, Kentucky is damn near unstoppable. That’s why we need to see more Dominique Hawkins going forward. We need to see more Dominique Hawkins from everyone.
And as good as he’s been thus far, Hawkins is never going to win a game for Kentucky. It’s very unlikely he’ll ever see the starting lineup this year. He’s not going to lead the team in scoring and the offense will never flow through him. But, dammit, I love me some Dominique Hawkins.