Illinois basketball stalwart officially declares for the 2024 NBA Draft

The Illinois basketball program will always remember the contributions of one of the most loyal players in team history
Illinois v Wisconsin
Illinois v Wisconsin / John Fisher/GettyImages

It looks like a long-time Illinois basketball player has decided to officially head off to the NBA.

The last couple of weeks have been crazy for the Illini. The transfer portal has been going bonkers, and the roster we saw in the Elite 8 about a month ago is no longer.

Illinois is set to return three scholarship players from the 2023-24 campaign with the possibility of a couple of upperclassmen being able to come back with a year of eligibility remaining. Now one of those upperclassmen has decided to end his time in the college ranks.

On Tuesday afternoon, Illini forward Coleman Hawkins posted on social media that he is heading to the NBA. Some players are declaring for the NBA Draft but also entering the transfer portal in case they want to come back. That isn’t what Hawkins is doing.

In the post on his social media account, Hawkins says, “I am 100% set on the 2024 NBA Draft.”

Coleman Hawkins is one of the most decorated Illinois basketball players of the last 20 years

The days of Hawkins at Illinois are over. This is the ending most expected, but it will be weird not seeing the kid playing for the Illini next season.

Hawkins was a do-it-all player for the Orange and Blue. He has career averages of 7.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game. This past season was his best in an Illinois uniform, as Hawkins averaged 12.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.1 blocks per contest.

The success Illinois saw on the court during Hawkins’ time is nearly unmatched. Hawkins came into the program in 2020. Illinois went on to finish the season 24-7. This was only the beginning of things to come.

During Hawkins’ career at Illinois, the program made the NCAA tournament all four years. This included two trips to the Round of 32 and an Elite 8 appearance. Illinois won the Big Ten regular-season title, and Hawkins’ career was bookended by two Big Ten Tournament titles.

On top of his great numbers and accomplishments with the Illinois basketball program, Hawkins brought the rarest of traits to the team. He stuck with us. In a world where the transfer portal dominates the headlines, Hawkins remained in Champaign and was a special part of a special run.

That is an impressive run on the resume of one of the most unique players to come through the State Farm Center doors. Hawkins was a special talent for this program, and he is someone who will never be forgotten. Thank you for everything.

Next. Projected Illinois basketball lineup after Luke Goode entered the transfer portal. Projected Illinois basketball lineup after Luke Goode entered the transfer portal. dark