Coleman Hawkins declares for 2023 NBA draft following 3-year career at Illinois

Forward+Coleman+Hawkins+exits+the+court+during+the+last+home+game+of+the+season+on+Mar.+2.+%0AHawkins+officially+made+his+decision+to+return+to+Illinois+on+Wednesday%2C+after+withdrawing+from+the+NBA+Draft.

James Hoeck

Forward Coleman Hawkins exits the court during the last home game of the season on Mar. 2. Hawkins officially made his decision to return to Illinois on Wednesday, after withdrawing from the NBA Draft.

By James Kim, Sports Editor

Junior forward Coleman Hawkins announced his decision to declare for the 2023 NBA draft while maintaining college eligibility via Twitter on Tuesday.

“I have always dreamed of becoming a professional basketball player,” Hawkins said. “Because of all of the support and inspiration from the wonderful people here at Illinois, I am going to continue to chase that dream by entering my name into the 2023 NBA draft, while maintaining my college eligibility.”

As one of the biggest names on the roster, Hawkins’ collegiate career with the Illini has been a successful one. As a freshman, the Sacramento native played limited minutes but appeared in 25 games over the course of the 2020-21 season that saw Illinois win the Big Ten tournament.

Hawkins only continued to improve the following year, becoming a big piece of the 2021-22 Illini team that claimed their share in the Big Ten title. In addition to playing in all 32 games that season, Hawkins averaged 5.3 points and 4.3 rebounds while having some highlight moments, including his game-saving block against Chattanooga in the dying seconds of the 2022 NCAA tournament.

Hawkins remained a consistent part of the starting five during the 2022-23 season, averaging 9.9 points and 6.3 rebounds. The junior forward served as a versatile piece for the Illini, offering size in the paint, three-point shooting, blocks and playmaking. Whenever Hawkins got going offensively it was a treat for Illinois, such as his 20-point performance that saw him hit six threes to beat Wisconsin on January 7, or when he scored a career-high 23 points against Eastern Illinois during the team’s season opener.

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    Hawkins’ story at Illinois is one consisting of success and while the door has been left open for the junior’s return, his focus now shifts to achieving the goal of joining the grandiose ranks of the NBA.

    “I am extremely blessed to have this opportunity,” Hawkins said. “And I’m excited to see what the future holds!”

     

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