First Look: Spencer Hawes

During the summer months, the Seattle Friends of Hoop club team generated a lot of attention. Loaded with big time prospects in the class of 2005 like Martell Webster, Jon Brockman and Micah Downs, the Friends were certainly deserving of the attention. By summer's end, Spencer Hawes, a six-foot-eleven inch forward from the class of 2006, had generated plenty of buzz as well.

It hasn't taken long for College Basketball's elite to grow familiar with the skilled product of Seattle (Wash.) Prep. In fact Hawes rattled of a list of schools showing early interest that is a virtual who's who of college hoops -- Duke, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Connecticut, Kentucky, Kansas, Texas, Washington, Gonzaga, UCLA, Stanford, Oregon and others have made their interest known. Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams was in Seattle on Wednesday.

"Coach Williams was supposed to be at my high school tonight, but some alumni event took up the gym so we couldn't play," Hawes said Wednesday evening. "He went ahead and did an in home visit with Martell [Webster] tonight and is supposed to be coming back by to watch me play, but I don't know when yet."

An easy going and articulate kid off of the court, Hawes is a bit of a throwback once he steps onto the floor and is all about business. It shouldn't come as a surprise that he plays a tough fundamentally sound game as the junior has great bloodlines. Both his father, Jeff, and his uncle, Steve, were stars at the University of Washington and his uncle even spent a few years playing in the NBA for the Sonics.

"I kind of describe my game as old school on the inside relying more on footwork and skill, using the left and right hand and fakes versus strength," said Hawes. "I've also got range on my jump shot and can be a shot blocker and rebounder on defense."

That isn't to say that Hawes doesn't have the athleticism to keep up with today's super athletes. He moves very well up and down the court and isn't above smashing on a defender whenever he gets a chance. It's that versatility that has allowed him to develop into a top 20 prospect nationally while putting his game on display all over the country on the club circuit.

"That (club ball) is the most fun I've had in a long time," said Hawes. "All you do is travel, play basketball and hang with the guys. The off the court stuff is the best part of it because you really get to know people."

Like many of his peers, Hawes has also discovered the wonders of the Internet. He uses it to keep up with news on himself and players from around the country after traveling to so many different places and meeting different players. In the class of 2005 he's particularly impressed with Josh McRoberts, Julian Wright and Louis Williams and guys like Vernon "Big Ticket" Macklin and Kevin Durant have really caught his attention in the class of 2006. He'd love the chance to finally see Greg Oden.

"I'd love to play against Oden, who wouldn't want to play against the number one draft pick?"

Still, Hawes is sure not to take criticism to heart, or let flattery get to his head.

"I try not to, but it gets to me a little bit. I just try to go with the underdog aspect of it all and just work on my game if I see anything negative."

With so many heavy hitters involved, he hasn't even had a chance to take a close look at what everybody has to offer or cut down his list to a more manageable size. It is a task that he's going to put off for a little while but he will take a hard look at every aspect of each program.

"I'm going to narrow it (list) when the season is over. I'm not going to worry about it right now because it's not in my hands. I'm going to watch and see how the teams do in the season and in the tournament," said Hawes. "Success, tradition, and where are they going, how are they getting there and where they've been. You know past, present and future are all important."

While it will be a little while before Hawes trims his list, North Carolina has certainly made an early impression on him.

"I just like the whole program. Their style of play and what they do with their big men really fit me. I like the guys that they are bringing in and the direction that they are headed in plus, it's UNC. I also like Coach Williams a lot and it is a great program."

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