Illinois basketball big man projected to land with title contender in 2024 NBA Draft

Coleman Hawkins had a great career with the Illinois basketball program, and now he is looking to take his talents to the next level
Wisconsin v Illinois
Wisconsin v Illinois / David Berding/GettyImages

Illinois basketball fans had an opportunity to watch one most well-rounded players when Coleman Hawkins was with the program.

The 6-foot-10 unicorn could do everything for the Illini. Hawkins didn’t settle either. Most players get to a certain point talent-wise, and they hit cruise control. Not Hawkins. He continued to improve.

Every season, Hawkins upped his scoring numbers. 1.4 points per game as a freshman, 5.9 points per game as a sophomore, 9.9 points per game as a junior, and he ended his Illinois career with 12.1 points per game.

On top of his great scoring ability, Hawkins’ efficiency in his final year was great as well. He shot 45.1% from the field, 36.9% from three-point range, and 79.2% from the free throw line. All were career highs.

Hawkins spent four great years with Illinois, which includes four NCAA tournament appearances, two trips to the round of 32 and an Elite 8 showing a couple of months ago.

This legendary career has the eyes of the NBA. Hawkins declared for the 2024 NBA Draft while keeping the option of heading back to college open by entering the transfer portal. He is currently going through the draft process and a recent projection as the Illini forward getting picked in June.

In the latest mock draft for the 2024 NBA Draft, Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report has Hawkins getting selected in the second round. With the No. 54 pick overall, the Boston Celtics are slated to pick the versatile big man.

This would be a great option for the Celtics. They are strong on the perimeter with Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Derek White has emerged in the backcourt as well. I like Kristaps Porzingis, but he is injury-prone. Al Horford is also a great player, but he is getting up there in age. Hawkins could come into the franchise and learn from those two big men and eventually take over for them in the next couple of seasons.

There is a worst-case scenario for Illinois basketball fans when it comes to Coleman Hawkins

I am rooting for Hawkins to do well during the NBA Draft process and to remain in the 2024 NBA Draft. There is also a chance Hawkins will come back to college.

As mentioned earlier, Hawkins has entered the transfer portal. If he decides to run it back in the college ranks and pull his name out of the mix, it is going to be chaos for Illini Nation.

Hawkins will have a bidding war. Illinois has the scholarship room to have him back for one more season, but the money could be an issue, as we have pulled in five transfer portal players. It is highly unlikely those five players were cheap.

On top of that, Arkansas seems to have some traction with potentially landing Hawkins if he comes back to college. There is a lot of smoke for the Razorbacks. They now have John Calipari as the head coach and the pockets seem to be awfully deep.

At the end of the day, there is always a worst-case scenario possible for Illinois fans. Hawkins could end up coming back to college and not playing for the Illini. That would be a painful one to see. Hopefully, he impresses the right people and stays in the NBA Draft.

Next. Illinois basketball has a projected top 20 pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. Illinois basketball has a projected top 20 pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. dark