"I'm kind of leaning towards them, but I wouldn't say I'm down to them," Hawes explained. "I'm still trying to look at the advantages of all the schools.
"I wouldn't call them the frontrunners, but if there are any standing out, [they are] a little bit."
Officially, though, the list is still lengthy.
"I've got it down to eight: Duke, Carolina, Washington, UCLA, Stanford, Kansas, UConn, and Arizona," Hawes said.
"I'm going to wait to narrow it down until after the [open contact] period is over this time, after they can come up to the schools. I'm going to talk to them and see how they see me, and then I'm going to narrow it down to hopefully five."
All the schools on his list will likely make the trip to Seattle to make their pitch.
"Coach Howland from UCLA came out to the school and there are a few more coming out," he said. "I know Carolina, Washington, Kansas, UConn, and I think Stanford plans to."
As for visits, he hasn't taken many trips yet – and hasn't made the trip East yet.
"I'm going to take them in the fall and two or three this spring," Hawes said. "I know I'm trying to do UCLA and Stanford this spring."
The state of Washington has emerged as a new basketball hotbed, producing a stream of high major players for few years in a row. Each one has faced pressure to stay home and play for the Washington Huskies. Hawes' situation is no different.
"Oh yeah," Hawes remarked. "Even all my friends are giving it to me every day, but I'm trying not to let that impact my decision. I'm trying to look at it objectively and figure out what is best long term for me and what is the best for my life in all aspects."
Some of the state's best have remained in-state – Nate Robinson, Jon Brockman, Martell Webster – but more have headed elsewhere. They include Marvin Williams, C.J. Giles, Micah Downs, Marcus Williams and Terrence Williams, just to name some from the past two classes. Hawes has turned to both groups, many of whom are his friends and/or former teammates, for advice.
"They are all my friends. I work out with them and hang out with them. I've learned a lot, especially from my Friends of Hoop teammates," Hawes said. "They teach me how to deal with things -- how to keep some things on the outside and some on the inside -- little things you don't think about."
And this year, with his big-time teammates from a year ago headed to college, Hawes is the marquee player on the Friends of Hoop roster.
"It's kind of interesting. It's fun to be on the other side of it," he said. "You grow with all those guys and are a role player. You learn so much from them, and now you try to take over. I just saw what they did and I try to emulate that. I move myself into that position this year. I'm the guy to go to. It's fun and it's a challenge."
The challenge is that he's also now the focus of opposing defenses, which will further test him. That didn't seem to bother him in his first two games this weekend at the Boo Williams Invitational – where he posted near triple-doubles. But late Saturday afternoon foul trouble limited him to 13 points (4-6 FG, 5-5 FT), four boards, two assists and a block.
Hawes already has an array of quality post moves with touch out to mid-range and is an impressive passer out of the post. He's going to need added weight to be able to battle in the post at the next level, but he already has the fundamentals down and is one of the most skilled big men in this class.
But Hawes knows what it'll take to be ready for college. He watches a lot of NCAA hoops and made sure not to miss the Tournament.
"I skipped a retreat to watch the Tournament. I got a little bit of flack for that one," he said.
And he said he took away some important observations. The biggest?
"Big men win championships," Hawes noted. "Honestly, that's something I was noticing. That last game they just gave it into Sean May. They road the horse, and he came through for them."
CAT TRACKS' ANALYSIS: Hawes has always been a bit of a longshot for the Cats, but they have cracked his top eight which is a good sign. One new negative is that Rodney Tention was the lead recruiter and had been on Hawes for several years. UW is still the team to beat, but by no means a lock.