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Hawkins doesn’t plan to get emotional, but could be ‘in trouble’ if his mom sheds a tear on Senior Night

By Keith Taylor
KyForward Senior Sports Writer

Dominique Hawkins wants to remembered as a player that gave it his all during his four-year career at Kentucky.

“I feel like I definitely will be remembered for my fight and my heart, always giving 100 percent in each game and diving for loose balls,” he said Tuesday.

Dominique Hawkins, along with teammates Derek Willis and Mychal Mulder will be honored prior to UK’s final home game against Vandy Tuesday night at Rupp Arena (Bill Thiry Photo)

Along with his basketball skills, the former Madison Central standout and Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball in 2013, will be remembered as a player that flashed a smile regardless of the circumstance, a trait he gets from his mother, Denise Hawkins.

“Everybody tells me I can’t go a minute without smiling,” he said. “My mom’s always smiling. I feel like everybody in my family actually just always smiles, so I guess I got the connection from them.”

Hawkins isn’t sure if he will be smiling or shedding a few tears when he plays his final collegiate game at Rupp Arena against Vanderbilt Tuesday night at Rupp Arena. As of now, Hawkins doesn’t plan on getting emotional.

“I don’t think anybody’s going to cry — I don’t think,” he said. “I don’t know. We’ll see. Are you thinking I will? We’ll see.”

Read More at Keith's Blog

Read More at Keith’s Blog: Out of the Blue

Hawkins and classmates Derek Willis and Mychal Mulder will be honored prior to tipoff during the team’s traditional sendoff, one of the highlights of the season. The senior trio will leave as the most productive senior class in John Calipari’s tenure as coach of the Wildcats.

“It’s going to be unbelievable,” Hawkins said. “It’s crazy that it’s actually here now. We’re all going to have fun and just play the game that we love.”

Link: Senior night will be special for UK trio

Hawkins caught the eye of the Kentucky coaching staff nearly four years ago and Kentucky coach John Calipari was impressed by Hawkins’ performances in the Sweet Sixteen boys state tournament. Hawkins led the Indians to their first state title that season and signed with the Wildcats shortly thereafter.

“You saw a guy that wasn’t afraid of the moment,” Calipari said. “You walk in that building and those events, that’s a big deal now. If you grew up in this state and you’re in Rupp Arena and you’re playing at the end of the season and you’re making plays and you’re not afraid, it means you can play here. This isn’t for everybody. You saw that in him.”

Hawkins has always had a knack for being a steady defender, but didn’t develop a relentless attitude on the offensive end until after his sophomore campaign. Since then, his offensive skills have progressed.

“I really don’t regret anything, but I wish my freshman to my sophomore year I would have played with more confidence,” he said. “I feel like I didn’t have the confidence to be aggressive on the offensive end.”

Developing his own self-confidence took time, but Hawkins admits his four years with the Wildcats “flew by.”

“It felt like we were playing in the NCAA Tournament when I was freshman last year,” he said. “I really didn’t realize how fast it was going by until you actually think about it.”

During his collegiate career, Hawkins hasn’t etched his name in the school’s record books and produced ludicrous offensive numbers, but he hasn’t regretted playing for the Wildcats and considered Kentucky his “dream school” during the recruiting process.

“(I’ve) always wanted to come to Kentucky and play,” he said. “I know how everybody’s passionate about Kentucky basketball and I just wanted to play for everybody in the state of Kentucky and put my heart out for them.”

Hawkins has done just that during his career, especially the past two seasons and played a career-high 37 minutes in Kentucky’s 76-66 win over Florida last Saturday. As his career comes to a close, Calipari said the three players are giving the best effort of their careers.

“They are all three playing the best of their careers right now and trying to build on that for them,” Calipari said. “Hopefully they finish that way.

Although he’s not sure he will react in his last game at Rupp Arena, Hawkins knows if his mother cries during the pregame ceremony, he will likely shed a tear or two.

“I’m in trouble,” he said with a smile.

Even if Hawkins cries, he will be smiling inside and savoring the moment.

Gametracker: Vanderbilt at Kentucky, 9 p.m., Tuesday. TV/Radio: ESPN, 98.1 WBUL.

Keith Taylor is a senior sports writer for KyForward, where he primarily covers University of Kentucky sports. Reach him at keith.taylor@kyforward.com or @keithtaylor21 on Twitter

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