John Calipari and Orlando Antigua were back in Rupp Arena on Friday to check out 2013 guard Dominique Hawkins.
The two UK coaches caught quite a show.
Hawkins and Holmes sophomore James “Beetle” Bolden traded big shots down the stretch until Madison Central finally put Holmes away for a 65-61 overtime victory.
Calipari and Antigua stayed for the entire game. They saw Hawkins recover from a dismal start to finish with 31 points and 12 rebounds. Bolden, a 5-foot-11 point guard who’s already being recruited by several major programs, had 29 points and 13 rebounds.
Bolden will be one to watch in the future, but Hawkins has the eye of UK’s staff at the moment.
Calipari, Antigua and Kenny Payne were also in Rupp on Wednesday to see Hawkins play in his Sweet Sixteen opener. After that game, the lifelong UK fan said he didn’t notice Calipari in the stands.
It was a different story Friday.
“People on the bench were like, ‘Cal’s here. Cal’s here,’” Hawkins said. “I’m like, ‘Leave me alone, I’ve gotta play!.’ I was trying not to look at them.”
Hawkins and the UK coaches have been getting better acquainted in recent days. Following Wednesday’s game, Hawkins was invited to the Joe Craft Center to meet Calipari and watch UK practice.
“It was like going to a concert and meeting someone famous and just passing out,” he said with a smile. “That’s how it felt. It’s amazing. I can’t even believe I went there. It’s like a dream.”
Hawkins said he paid special attention to what UK’s point guards — Ryan Harrow and Jarrod Polson — were doing in practice. “I was like, ‘I can do all that stuff they’re doing.’”
Antigua has been the primary coach in contact with Hawkins, who said he only talked to Calipari for about 30 seconds.
The UK coaches have said that as long as Hawkins keeps winning, they’ll keep coming to see him play.
“It gives me a sense that they’re looking at me pretty hard now,” he said. “But I don’t know yet. We’ll have to see.”
The 6-1 guard has a walk-on offer from Louisville and continues to receive interest from Purdue, Alabama and Tennessee. He’s had longstanding offers from Morehead State and Western Kentucky, among other mid-majors.
WKYT’s Steve Moss tweeted Friday night that South Carolina was in Rupp to see Hawkins, and Coach Frank Martin is planning to attend Sunday’s championship game if Madison Central advances.
Hawkins, the cousin of former UK star Marquis Estill, has repeatedly referred to UK as his “dream school” in recent interviews. But he has yet to pass that feeling on to the Kentucky coaches.
“Hopefully they see it all on Twitter and the news that I’m saying this,” he said, still smiling.
Hawkins’ next game will be Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Madison Central will play Hopkinsville with a trip to the state championship game on the line.