Report: Louisville In The Mix for Illinois Transfer Coleman Hawkins

The former big man for the Fighting Illini is currently going through the NBA Draft process.
Mar 28, 2024; Boston, MA, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini forward Coleman Hawkins (33) dunks the ball
Mar 28, 2024; Boston, MA, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini forward Coleman Hawkins (33) dunks the ball / Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Louisville men’s basketball program’s roster construction focus has shifted towards the frontcourt in the last couple weeks, and the Cardinals are reportedly in the mix potentially land one of the top big men currently in the transfer portal.

According to CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander, Louisville is one of four schools that are at the forefront of potentially landing former Illinois forward/center Coleman Hawkins.

“(For) Coleman Hawkins, it sounds like that is Arkansas, (North) Carolina, Louisville and Kansas State. There could be others.” Norlander said Tuesday on the “Eye On College Basketball” podcast. “He will command a very, very high NIL price, and he really does want to go the NBA route. But, I'd say the buzz on Hawkins at this stage is, more likely than not, that he would return to college. Although no sure thing.”

Hawkins originally declared for the 2024 NBA Draft back on Apr. 23 after four years at Illinois. But on the final day of the spring transfer window one week later, Hawkins said that he would also be entering the portal to “protect myself in case of injury or any other unforeseen circumstances.”

"My intention is 100% to stay in the draft and I am fully focused on that process," he said in a since-deleted post on Twitter/X. "I wanted to make sure I take every opportunity to protect myself in case of injury or any other unforeseen circumstances down the road.

"With the recent NCAA rule change regarding grad transfers, and the May 1 deadline approaching, entering the portal gives me the best chance to protect myself in those instances and maximize my opportunities as I go through the pre-draft process."

Landing the 6-foot-10, 200-pound big man would be a huge boost to Louisville’s roster for year one under new head coach Pat Kelsey. He earned an All-Big Ten honorable mention this past season, averaging 12.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.1 blocks in 35 starts. He also shot 45.1 percent from the field and 36.9 percent on three-point attempts.

After struggling as a freshman, the Sacramento, Calif. native went on to be a starter for Illinois over the next three seasons. In 126 games and 82 starts for the Fighting Illini, Hawkins has totaled 979 points, 581 rebounds, 256 assists, 115 steals and 102 blocks.

Hawkins isn't the only front court piece that Louisville is actively pursuing. The Cardinals recently has former Utah State forward/center Great Osobor on campus for an official visit, and are set to host Class of 2024 forward Khani Rooths for a visit this weekend.

Not long after the end of Louisville's disastrous 2023-24 campaign, one which resulted in the firing of second-year head coach Kenny Payne, the Cardinals' roster began to flip. In fact, all 12 of Louisville's scholarship players have entered the portal, with only walk-on guard Aidan McCool in line to return.

Fortunately, new head coach Pat Kelsey is already starting to work the portal. So far, Kelsey has landed nine transfers since officially being named the new head coach on Mar. 28.

Guard Reyne Smith and center James Scott are both following Kelsey from Charleston, while James Madison guard/forward Terrence Edwards Jr., Colorado guard J'Vonne Hadley and Washington guard Koren Johnson are also joining the fold. BYU center Aly Khalifa and Charleston guard Kobe Rodgers also committed, but both will redshirt the 2024-25 season.

(Photo of Coleman Hawkins: Brian Fluharty - USA TODAY Sports)

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Matthew McGavic


McGavic is a 2016 Sport Administration graduate of the University of Louisville, and a native of the Derby City. He has been covering the Cardinals in various capacities since 2017, with a brief stop in Atlanta, Ga. on the Georgia Tech beat. He is also a co-host of the 'From The Pink Seats' podcast on the State of Louisville network. Video gamer, bourbon drinker and dog lover. Find him on Twitter at @Matt_McGavic