LEXINGTON — Normally John Calipari holds his press conferences before practice on the day before Kentucky plays. Wednesday he changed that — but he had a good reason.
Calipari was in Rupp Arena to watch Madison Central beat Wayne County in the opening game of the state tournament because he wanted to watch Central star Dominique Hawkins play.
"It's an honor for me to know he was here," Hawkins said.
Hawkins scored 25 points, three assists and three rebound in an 81-56 win. The 6-1 senior hit 11 of 17 from the floor on mostly layups.
Hawkins' cousin is former Central and UK standout Marquis Estill, who is now a UK graduate assistant. Hawkins remembers going to watch Estill play in high school.
"He has put a bug in their (UK coaches) ear about me. That's one reason they are calling," Hawkins said after the game.
He said the UK staff had talked to his coach about scholarship possibilities.
“They have one left, so hopefully they might give it to me," Hawkins said.
He said he didn't know how decisions by top five players Julius Randle and Andrew Wiggins, who have UK in their final lists of schools, could impact his chances of joining the Wildcats.
He has four offers, including Western Kentucky and Morehead. He's visited Western, the first school that offered him a scholarship. Hawkins said Tennessee, Alabama and Purdue have shown interest along with Kentucky and Louisville.
Wayne coach Rodney Woods, himself a former Tennessee player, was asked whether Hawkins was an "SEC-caliber" player.
"He looked like it against us," Woods said. "I thought he shot it well today, and we knew he could get to the basket. But it's hard to say unless you see him against some other players that are as quick as him.
"Is he an SEC-caliber player? Sure, probably, for somebody. I don't know if you're talking about Kentucky or Tennessee or Florida, or if you're talking about Mississippi State. I think I might could play for Mississippi State right now."
Knowing Willie: Georgia coach Mark Fox has a unique connection to UK¿freshman Willie Cauley-Stein.
“Willie is somebody who, he grew up in western Kansas, not far from where I did, and we’ve got family friends that have known each other for a long time,” Fox said. “I think he’s more comfortable now late in the year than maybe he was early. He’s long and powerful and getting more and more aggressive and that kid has a very bright future.”
Bouncing back: Calipari missed his spot on Monday’s Southeasternn Conference coaches teleconference because he had to have a dental procedure done.
“I had a double-knee replacement, but I bounced back pretty quickly,” Calipari joked Wednesday. “No, I had a procedure done on a tooth. I was out of town Sunday, so I had to do it Sunday night and then Monday … but it’ll be fine.”