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Hawkins putting in extra work, wants to ‘leave it all on the floor’ as UK career winds down

By Keith Taylor
KyForward senior sports writer

Dominique Hawkins knows his time at Kentucky is winding down and is taking advantage of his last tour of duty with the Wildcats.

“I have a few more months here and I just want to leave it all on the floor,” Hawkins said Monday ahead of Kentucky’s contest at Vanderbilt set for Tuesday.

UK guard Dominique Hawkins is in his last semester with the Wildcats (Tammie Brown Photo)

UK guard Dominique Hawkins is in his last semester with the Wildcats (Tammie Brown Photo)

Prior to Monday’s workout before the team departed for Nashville, Hawkins was putting more time in the gym perfecting his shot and developing more confidence for the final two months of the regular season.

“In high school, I took any shot I wanted to,” the former Madison Central High School standout and Kentucky Mr. Basketball said. “Then I came in as a freshman and I had a new role. I was playing defense and I needed to get in the gym more because I was not taking 10 shots a game like I was in my high school years. My confidence has risen every year and I feel like it’s just me getting in the gym and shooting more, so I can perform in the game and knock down shots.”

Already ahead of the curve on defense, Hawkins said the rest of his teammates focused on that end of the floor during “Camp Cal” over the Christmas break and the senior guard said the extra workouts proved to be beneficial.

“Defensively (we are) communicating more,” he said. “That’s what we did in practice, communicate and practice on the defensive end. We just focused on better defense. At the beginning of the season we were letting (the other team score) easy baskets because we weren’t talking to each other. Now when we are in practice the coaches are getting on us about communicating.”

The extra practice sessions also allowed the team to get to know each other better and Hawkins said each player has a better understanding of what to expect during the rest of the season.

“I feel like everybody is buying into their role,” Hawkins said. “Everybody is playing together. Camp Cal, definitely made us better as a team.”

The veteran guard said it’s not easy for teams to develop team chemistry, especially at Kentucky, but said the newcomers have embraced the process and sacrificed for the good of the entire team.

Read More at Keith's Blog

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

“It’s pretty difficult because when you come here you don’t know what role you are going to get,” he said. “Once you buy into that role, you figure out that the team will win and be successful. For me I feel like it wasn’t hard and it wasn’t hard for anyone else because everybody wants to win.”

The team’s chemistry has been evident in Kentucky’s first three Southeastern Conference encounters. For the first time since the 1953-54 season, the Wildcats have defeated their first three league foes by an average of 23 points per game. Hawkins said there’s been no specific reason behind Kentucky’s blowout performances in the first three SEC games.

“We just come up and play to the best of our abilities,” he said. “Coach (Calipari) always tells us that it’s somebody’s Super Bowl game against us, so we just want to play our game and make sure we perform as well as we can.”

Off the court, Hawkins said Wildcats have formed a brotherhood, which he doubted could happen considering Kentucky’s revolving roster that changes on a yearly basis.

“I thought it was more of a ‘Hey, hi,’ type of deal because a lot of one and done’s come,” he said. “I didn’t know when someone leaves they would be actually be your brother and when they come back you’re excited to see them and hope they do well in the future.”

Through the first 15 games Hawkins is averaging three points per game, but has 35 assists and committed just four turnovers in an average of 16.7 minutes per contest. Hawkins doesn’t mind playing behind freshman guards De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk and considers it a “blessing to be on this team.”

“We’ve got great guys around me that everybody loves,” he said. “I’ll probably never find a brotherly love like Kentucky has once you come to this program.”

Hawkins added that Fox and Monk have been “unbelievable” this season and is looking forward to bigger and better things from the two newcomers as the season progresses.

“We know that De’Aaron can do that anytime and so can Malik,” he said. “I’m pretty grateful to have a backcourt like that, that can score at any moment, can push the ball down the court and make hard plays look easy.”

Gametracker: Kentucky at Vanderbilt, Tuesday, 7 p.m. TV/Radio: ESPN, 98.1 FM 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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