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BREAKING: Coleman Hawkins to Return to Illinois Basketball

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Illinois Basketball: 3 Thoughts Before Ottowa
Jan 7, 2023; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini forward Coleman Hawkins (33) reacts after hitting a three point shot during the second half against the Wisconsin Badgers at State Farm Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

BREAKING: Coleman Hawkins to Return to Illinois Basketball

Another Domino falls for Illinois Basketball. Illinois Basketball’s star forward, Coleman Hawkins announced on Social media that he will be withdrawing from the NBA draft and returning to Champaign. After entering the NBA Draft process, the 6’10” forward withdrew his name on the day of the deadline. The sole remaining member of the 2020 recruiting class, Hawkins expressed regret with how last year went after the first-round loss to Arkansas. With a full year of starting and experience, Hawkins can provide veteran leadership that the team lacked last year.

Hawkins came to Illinois as the 167th ranked recruit in his class. After growing pains in his first two years, Hawkins started every game for the Illini last year. He gives Illinois a player who can provide quality minutes at either frontcourt position. Dain Dainja and Hawkins provided the bulk of paint protection on a team that finished top 5 nationally in blocks per game. He would’ve been a late second round pick in the draft and can improve his stock with a strong year going into a weaker 2024 draft.

What this means for Illinois?

Coleman Hawkins’ return immediately boosts the floor for the Illinois squad. If Hawkins left, Illinois would have been incredibly thin at the front-court position. Hawkins is a player that can play both the power forward and center position. This versatility eases the burden on Dain Dainja and Quincy Guerrier. It is safe to say that Illinois Basketball has never had a prospect like Coleman Hawkins. He is a 6 foot 10, do-it-all power forward that has true next level potential. He has defensive capabilities and a lot of offensive potential that can be unlocked.

It seems that NBA teams want to see him be more decisive in his offensive moves. Hawkins needs to improve in catch-and-shoot situations and in being more decisive on the offensive end. To put it bluntly, Coleman Hawkins needs to stop shooting step-back threes and avoid dribbling multiple times around the perimeter. He has the chance to improve his draft stock to the late first round if he can improve these two parts of his game.

What’s next for Illinois.

Illinois now awaits a point guard. There is no secret that none of this will matter if there is no point guard to tie all this together. RayJ Dennis was obviously the piece that Illinois wanted, however they will now focus their sights on other guards. Given that the NBA draft deadline has passed, Illinois now has the opportunity to approach guards who have withdrawn and decided to enter the transfer portal.

Regardless, Illinois can breath easier given that they have returned both of their stars.  Hawkins and Shannon will be two of the best players in the Big Ten. They now have two superstars on and off the court that can help guide the fresh faces in Champaign.

Alex is the Owner of Armchairillini.com, your go-to source for in depth coverage of the Illinois Fighting Illini. Alex is a Resident Physician in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation for Northwestern Medicine and has had articles featured in top media publications like Bleacher Report, YardBarker, Verbal Commits, CBS sports and more.

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