LEXINGTON — It was quite a week for Dominique Hawkins.
Hawkins led his Madison Central team to a win over Wayne County in the first round of the Boys Sweet Sixteen on Wednesday, when he scored 25 points, then had a sensational second half Friday to help the Indians outlast Holmes 65-61 in overtime in the quarterfinals.
He scored 23 points in the second half against Hopkinsville, when he went 3 for 6 from the field and hit 16 of 18 free throws, to help the Indians advance to the finals against Ballard, which defeated Montgomery County 59-55 in Saturday night’s second semifinal.
In the Indians’ win over Holmes, Hawkins had 31 points on 10-of-27 shooting — he was only 3 for 14 the first half — along with 12 rebounds, two assists and two blocks while playing every second of the game.
It was also the second straight game that Kentucky coach John Calipari was in Rupp Arena to watch him. And after Wednesday’s game, Hawkins even got an invite to a Wildcats’ practice.
“It was fun watching practice, too,” Hawkins said Friday. “I met coach Calipari. He was telling me we had a great team and good backcourt. He told me just to keep working and they would keep looking at me.”
Hawkins said he “did not know yet” if a scholarship offer might be coming from Kentucky. However, he said having Calipari and assistant Orlando Antigua coming back for a second game led him to believe that UK was indeed interested.
Hawkins, a Kentucky fan, was a bit overwhelmed when he got a text from Antigua after Wednesday’s game inviting him to practice. He didn’t even have Antigua’s name saved in his phone contact list, and he also had to get permission to miss watching the Holmes-Pleasure Ridge Park game with his team so he could attend the practice.
“They looked like NBA players to me. They were dunking and hitting 3s. It was great to be there,” Hawkins said. “It was like going to a concert and meeting somebody famous and passing out. That’s how it feels. It’s amazing. I can’t even believe I went there. It was like a dream.”
Hawkins said he paid close attention to what Kentucky point guards Ryan Harrow and Jarrod Polson were doing at practice and thought “I can do all the stuff they are doing” as he watched. He also said Calipari and Antigua told him they would keep coming to watch him play as long as Madison Central kept winning.
What they saw is an athletic, competitive player who plays with a passion that has been missing at Kentucky too often this season. He didn’t hang his head after a bad shooting half. He didn’t back off taking big shots. He didn’t shy away from contact to go inside and score or rebound. In the fourth quarter, the Indians had 14 points, and he had them all.
While he says Kentucky is his “dream school” among those interested in him, he didn’t convey that message to Calipari or Antigua.
“I did not say that to them, but I should say that to them. Hopefully they see it all over Twitter and the news that I’m saying that it’s a dream school,” he said.
Madison Central coach Allen Feldhaus said any school, including Kentucky, that gets Hawkins will be happy.
“He’s a great player and great person. I don’t see how anybody, including Kentucky, could go wrong with him,” Feldhaus said.
Hawkins has scholarship offers from Western Kentucky, Tennessee Tech, Morehead State and Valparaiso and interest from Purdue, Tennessee and Louisville. He got a text from Purdue coaches wishing him good luck at the state tournament.