Hawkins finding role with Illini


CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — As the season goes on, Illinois head coach Brad Underwood is getting more and more comfortable with freshman Coleman Hawkins on the court. The Illini forward played a career high 14 minutes against Penn State in the team’s most recent game, scoring five points to go along with three blocks and one rebound.

“You guys are going to see at some point in the not too distant future how good a talent Coleman Hawkins is,” Underwood said. “I love, love, love his skillset. He’s earned it, he’s been great in practice. When he gets on the court he does a lot of good things to help us.”

Hawkins was one of the first three guys off the bench for the Illini (10-5, 6-3 B1G) against the Nittany Lions, alongside Da’Monte Williams and Giorgi Bezhanishvili. After playing 14 minutes the previous five games, the Sacramento, California native equaled that in one game.

“He’s an elite passer,” Underwood said. “He’s so instinctive. He’s a guy that does things you don’t coach. Just reaction to those blocks and getting to the ball, I love that.”

Hawkins received a technical foul with 12:57 left to play against PSU after blocking a shot from Izaiah Brockington. Underwood quickly pulled him from the game and had a few choice words for his freshman. It was only temporary, with Hawkins returning to the game a little more than three minutes later.

“I really like that and I say that in about a half serious way,” Underwood said. “He made a heck of a block and I kind of like that grit. I was kind of that trash talking, that was kind of me. He made a heck of a play and he’s got to learn that you can’t do that in front of an official or you can’t be that demonstrative and the game had that pitch to it where they were going to call it but I love that emotion.”

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