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Coleman Hawkins, Terrence Shannon Jr. Return to Illinois

Coleman Hawkins, Terrence Shannon Jr. Return to Illinois

Jonathan GiffoniESPNMay 31, 2023 at 10:59 p.m. ET2 minutes to read

Illinois forward Coleman Hawkins is withdrawing from the NBA draft and returning to school for his senior season, he told ESPN on Wednesday.

“The reason for coming back is to feel more comfortable with the start of my NBA journey,” Hawkins said. “I would have been an initial pick, but as far as contracts, two-way deals—nothing is guaranteed with those. Getting another freshman year would allow me to get a better start to my NBA career, and hopefully get a first-round, guaranteed contract.”

The return of Hawkins — one of college basketball’s most versatile big men who led Illinois in rebounding, assists and blocks — marked a big day for the Illini, which also saw its leading scorer, Terrence Shannon Jr., announces his intention to return to champaign.

Hawkins, formerly the 54th in the ESPN draft rankings, has intrigued NBA teams with his ability to start his team’s offense at 6-foot-10 on the one hand, defend point guards on the other and drop 3-pointers when working off the ball, giving him A unique variation on the modern game.

Scouts will want to see him find more consistency with his outside shooting (28% on three-pointers), continue to add size to his 224-pound frame and become a more consistent player on both ends of the floor until he finally deserves to be a first-round pick in 2024. , which Hawkins says is his goal for next season.

“NBA teams say they want me to be more aggressive,” Hawkins said. “Teams indicated confidence. Playing with amnesia. Forgetting about missed shots and just playing my game. I’m an elite shooter, but I didn’t show that last year so it’s going to be important to be more consistent with that.”

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Hawkins, the Illini’s third-leading scorer, will team up again with Shannon, who transferred from Texas Tech last summer, for a second season at Illinois, hoping to build on last year’s campaign in which the team went 11-9 in the Big Ten and lost in the first round. from the NCAA Tournament.

The team also returned starting center Dain Dainja, versatile winger Ty Rodgers, pitcher Luke Goode, and combo guard Sencire Harris, and picked up several transfers in Southern Illinois Marcus Dumasek, Quincy Guerrier at Oregon State and Justin Harmon at Utah State, along with With 4-star starters Amani. Hansberry and Dravyn Gibbs-Lawhorn.

“I expect better dynamics and a better understanding of how we play,” said Hawkins. “We’re going to come together more as a team. Last year we had a lot of freshmen and freshmen and youngsters. Now we have a better idea of ​​how to win. The goal is to compete for another Big Ten title, which would be my third in four years here. That’s my goal.” “.

Jonathan Giffoni is an NBA draft expert and founder and co-owner of DraftExpress.com, a proprietary scouting and analytics service used by NBA, NCAA, and international teams.