Decision day is nearing for Illinois basketball stars Coleman Hawkins and Terrence Shannon Jr. Hawkins and Shannon have until May 31 to withdraw their name from the draft and return to school or to remain in the draft and begin their professional careers.
Both Illinois players declared for the NBA Draft and went through the NBA Draft Combine last week while also participating in individual workouts for various NBA teams. Hawkins worked out for the Golden State Warriors — after making the drive from his hometown of Sacramento — on Friday.
“I think I’m at the point where I’m just getting feedback and try to play it by ear,” Hawkins told Illini Inquirer of where he’s at in his decision-making process. “I kind of want to hear from a team that’s really interested in me, not necessarily getting confirmation that they’re going to draft me but at least feeling a little more comfortable myself in getting drafted.”
Hawkins could elect to return to Illinois for a senior season, in which he would be a key component on a new-look roster that includes SIU transfer Marcus Domask, Utah Valley transfer Justin Harmon and Oregon transfer Quincy Guerrier. Illinois is also heavily involved in recruiting Toledo transfer RayJ Dennis.
If he returns to school, Hawkins would have the opportunity to likely make significant NIL money, though he told Illini Inquirer that’s not been a key factor in his decision-making to this point.
“Some guys enter the portal and they transfer and they’re kind of money hungry,” Hawkins said. “That’s not necessarily the case for me. I feel like, if anything, I kind of earned the right to be in a position where I can make some good NIL money, but honestly, that hasn’t even been my thought right now. No numbers have been brought up. I haven’t mentioned anything to Coach about NIL. That’s kind of not the person I am. I come from a great family who is not desperate for money or begging for anything. I’m just at the point right now where if I have to go back to school, I have to go back to school. If NIL opportunities come back to me then it comes back to me.”
In addition to the Warriors, Illini Inquirer’s Derek Piper reports that Hawkins has worked out with the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Hawkins in two games during last week’s NBA Draft Combine scored nine points (3-of-8 from the field) with 12 rebounds, 13 assists and zero turnovers. Hawkins indicated on Friday that teams have inquired about him being more aggressive offensively.
“A lot of people really like my game,” Hawkins said. “They’re fully aware of what I can do. They just want to see me in workouts. They want to see me do good in workouts. They want to see me score the ball in workouts. That might be after a workout, maybe after that first week past the deadline. It may be I don’t feel comfortable with where I’m at or kind of don’t have the right feel of where I’m going so I might go back to school. I’m not in a position where I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, I need money. I need to go to the NBA. Oh my gosh, I need money. I need to go back to school and make NIL.’ I’m just kind of playing it by ear, being patient with everything and making sure I’m comfortable with everything.”
Hawkins was a versatile piece of the Illinois roster last season, his first season playing major minutes for the Illini. He started all 33 games this season and was third on the team in scoring (9.9 points) and led the Illini in rebounding (6.3). He led the team with 3 assists per game, which also ranked 15th in the Big Ten and was second on Illinois with 1.2 blocks per game, which ranked 15th in the Big Ten. Hawkins led Illinois with 32.5 minutes per game.
Hawkins has shown the ability to shoot but shot 28 percent on 3-pointers this season and 44.1 percent overall from the floor. During his three seasons at Illinois, Hawkins progressively played a bigger and bigger role and was lauded for his versatility this past season. Hawkins guarded virtually every position on the floor and was, at times, the point guard for the offense and brought the ball up the floor.
In the mock drafts: ESPN’s Jonathan Givony slates Hawkins (9.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.2 blocks) to go No. 46 overall to the Atlanta Hawks. The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie does not include Hawkins in his 58-pick, two-round mock draft.
Additional reading: Derek Piper’s thoughts on Coleman Hawkins’ performance at the NBA Draft Combine.