RICHMOND, Ky. — Dominique Hawkins hit three pressure-packed free throws in the final 30 seconds Friday night to lead Madison Central to a 60-56 victory over Henry Clay in the semifinals of the 11th Region tournament.
Hawkins and Madison Central are now one victory away from a trip to next week’s Sweet Sixteen in Rupp Arena. The Indians play Lexington Catholic on Saturday night in the 11th finals.
“It would mean everything,” Hawkins said of a trip to the Sweet Sixteen. “Last year, we got upset and it broke my heart. That’s why you play high school basketball: To get to Rupp.”
There’s still a chance he could play his college ball in Lexington.
Assistant coach Orlando Antigua was at Madison Central’s practice Sunday and there was a possibility that someone from UK’s staff would return for Friday’s game. But with the Cats playing at Arkansas on Saturday, no coaches came to see Hawkins, who finished with 24 points.
“Since I was a little kid — I grew up as a Kentucky fan,” he said after the game. “It’s been my dream school.”
Hawkins is the cousin of former Wildcat Marquis Estill, who also starred for Madison Central and is now an undergraduate assistant at Kentucky. “He hasn’t told me he’s been in their ear, but I think he has,” Hawkins said with a smile.
Other BCS-level schools that have recently expressed interest include Louisville, Alabama, Tennessee and Purdue, which had a coach at Tuesday’s game. Mid-majors Morehead State and Western Kentucky had long been the favorites in his recruitment and are still in contention for his commitment.
U of L has offered a preferred walk-on position, but Hawkins said both Chane Behanan and Russ Smith would have to go pro for him to get a scholarship there for the 2013-14 season.
“I don’t know if they’re going to go, so we’ll see,” Hawkins said.