Last spring and summer plenty of people went out to watch the loaded Seattle Friends of Hoop club program. Headlined by players like Micah Downs (KANSAS), Martell Webster (WASHINGTON), Jon Brockman (WASHINGTON) and Mitch Johnson (STANFORD), it made sense that coaches, fans and scouts would be interested in watching them play.
However, by the summer’s end a standout from the class of 2006 had emerged and 6-11 BF/C Spencer Hawes was getting plenty of well deserved attention himself. That attention has continued this winter and the Seattle (WA) Prep big man is one of the most highly sought-after players in the country.
To his credit, the well-spoken Hawes is just trying to plug along and take care of business.
“My footwork and my ability to get from block to block is a strength,” says Hawes who is capable of using both hands around the basket. “Using both hands has kind of come naturally and I’ve been working at since I was a little kid so it is kind of a combination of both.”
Aside from superior footwork -- which he uses to create easy looks and passing angles well before catching the ball in position to score -- and his ability to shoot and pass with either hand around the basket, Hawes has plenty more to offer. He’s a spirited competitor who fights for loose balls, is constantly looking to improve his game and has the ability to step out and shoot all the way to the three point line without drifting away from around the basket where he is most effective.
While he tries to model his game after the San Antonio Spurs Tim Duncan, Hawes also benefits from some pretty strong genes when it comes to basketball. Both his father Jeff and uncle Steve played at the University of Washington and his uncle enjoyed a long career in the NBA.
“They help me out a ton,” said Hawes. “Ever since I was little and decided to commit to basketball they’ve both been there to help me out with whatever I needed to do to improve so they’ve both been there my whole life.”
As his skills have continued to grow, so has the interest schools from all around the country have shown in Hawes. He’ll eventually -- more than likely in the early spring -- look to chop his list and make some visits but for the time being his list stands at 11 and includes Arizona, Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, North Carolina, Texas, N.C. State, Washington, UCLA, Kentucky and Stanford.
Although he’s hesitant to name leaders, Hawes does provide some insight into who has been the most aggressive in his recruitment.
“I’m going to wait until after the season to narrow my list down but right now I’m kind of taking it all in and letting it all come to me,” says Hawes of chopping down his list. “There have been a few teams that have been more involved. North Carolina has been coming at me pretty hard with U-Dub, Stanford and Kansas. I’d say those are the ones that have been coming at me the hardest.”
According to Hawes there is a lot to like about each school and he’d like to play for a program that has been successful in the past but the future is more important. Kansas, among others, has made an early impression.
“The way they use the bigs and the home court advantage that they’ve got is nice,” said Hawes. “How they prepare people for the next level too.”
He’s also well aware of the pull that hometown Washington has because of family ties and the expected presence of his club teammates Webster and Brockman.
“It’s definitely a draw but I’m not going to let that influence my decision,” said Hawes. “That’s something to take into consideration but it’s not going to sway me over.”
Just as he excels on the basketball court, Hawes is a fantastic student who carries a 3.8 GPA and he’s already notched a SAT score in excess of 1200. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that academics will be just as important as basketball when he finally chooses a school.
“I’m looking at a school that has a winning tradition and a place with good academics,” said Hawes. “A place that is going to prepare me for the next level and where I can get better by playing against the best competition is important.”
Finally, he is doing everything he can to take advantage of learning from a player the caliber of Webster. While the 6-6 Webster -- who is often mentioned as a potential straight to the NBA type of player -- and Hawes play different positions, there is certainly a lot that Hawes can learn from how Webster deals with balancing improving with the day to day grind.
“You learn every day playing with someone like that. When I talk about how I want to get more versatile, watching him is the ultimate key I think,” said Hawes of his Seattle Prep teammate. “He’s just so smooth and lets the game from him. It’s not even moves or anything, just how he plays the game and how he conducts himself you can really learn a lot from a guy like Martell.”