5. Coleman Hawkins has played well since coming back from injury
If Illinois wants to go deep in the NCAA tournament, Coleman Hawkins is going to need to be a big part of the run.
Hawkins has a ton of talent, and there are going to be some people who scoff at that notion. I believe this kid is a special player who can really help the program go far in his final year. Since he returned from his injury, he has been the normal Hawkins we were all expecting as well.
On Sunday, Hawkins had another solid game. He finished the Colgate game with 16 points, seven rebounds, two steals, one assist, and one block while shooting 6-of-14 from the field and 2-of-6 from three-point range.
Sure, there are some issues I have with Hawkins at times. He isn’t a great three-point shooter, but he shoots deep shots like he is Steph Curry. He also makes some passes that are head-scratchers because they end up five rows deep in the crowd. But I have been happy with what Hawkins has given the Illini over the past four games.
In this four-game stretch, Hawkins has averaged 10.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 2.0 steals per game. He has been tenacious on the defensive end of the court. His quick hands and vision are impressive. Those two things have helped him in the steals department on multiple occasions.
To start the season, Hawkins was playing some of the worst basketball of his career. Since returning from injury, he has looked like the dynamic unicorn we all expected to see. Hawkins is a really good player who can be a massive asset to the Illinois basketball program.