Hawes talks about decision

Washington basketball fans who celebrated Spencer Hawes signing with the Huskies back in November, 2005 certainly knew this day would come. UW Head Coach Lorenzo Romar knew it too, and was all smiles Thursday as Hawes declared his intent to make himself available for the 2007 NBA draft, which will be held June 28th in New York City.

While Hawes has left open the possibility that he could return by stating his intentions to not hire an agent right away, all indications Thursday pointed toward the 7-footer will eventually head into the professional ranks.

"I've been thinking about it for a while and I think now is the right time to get it off my chest," Hawes said at a press conference on the UW campus. "I've been lucky that people have been able to give me information without putting too much on me or trying to sway me one way or another.

"It's been my goal since I was a kid to play in the NBA and be a star, and it's something I look forward to, but if now isn't the right time I can't be disappointed. I have to be patient. But if it is, it's an opportunity to fulfill that dream."

Hawes, who has not filed his intent to enter the draft yet, has until April 29th to submit his application. The deadline to withdraw from draft consideration is June 18th, and Hawes will have two weeks from the end of the pre-draft camp in Lake Buena Vista, Florida until that deadline to work out with NBA teams and to sort out his draft status.

But according to Hawes, his potential place in the lottery won't determine his decision to stay in the draft or to pull out at the last minute. "It's more about the situation, the opportunity for playing time, contribution, development and all that," he said. "Everyone knew this was going to be a strong draft, so I'm looking at it more for what will be the best short-term and long-term situation for me."

Romar said that this decision for Hawes was essentially a no-brainer, especially the part about testing the waters first before taking the next step. "The rule was put in place for this very reason, to go out and test the market to see what the experts think, see if they have that opportunity to reach their life-long dream," he said. "And with someone like Spencer, who definitely has that opportunity, it's great to go out and get a realistic view of what they think of them at the next level so you can make an intelligent and proper decision in terms of your college and pro career. I think it's great that he has this opportunity to go out and explore."

Since Romar signed Hawes, he's talked to him at various times about what life in the NBA was like for him and what to expect when he decides to take that same leap into professional ball. "Being on your own, it's a lot to handle," Hawes said. "He (Romar) has been really good about emphasizing all the things with his knowledge from being a former player. Sometimes you just think about the basketball side of things, but it becomes your life and he has helped to emphasize full-circle all the factors that go into being in that position."

Hawes has spoken to other current NBA players, like former UW star Brandon Roy. The two talked on Wednesday. "To talk to people that have been through before, it's extremely valuable," he said. "But every situation depends on the individual, so you take what you can, but you also take into account where you may differ."

Regardless of where the pre-draft experience takes him, Hawes intends on taking his next step with both eyes facing forward. "My mindset is that I'm trying to be as prepared as possible for the draft and to try and contribute at that level," he said. "If I was trying to satisfy both situations, I'd be doing the team a disservice and I'd be doing myself the same. So I'm focusing as much as I can on that situation and seeing where things go from there."

To that end, he's taking the advice of someone very close to him – his uncle Steve, who was a two-time All-American at UW and who also played 10 years in the NBA. "He said that I need to be as prepared as possible," said Hawes. :He didn't say I was ready or not, just to be as prepared as possible."

But the question remains – does Hawes think he's ready right now to take that next step? "Personally you have confidence in yourself, and I don't know to what degree I'd be ready to contribute, but that's what part of the process is all about," he said.

Hawes did watch the recent national championship game between Florida and Ohio State, and saw what could happen when you have a group of players committed to putting their professional aspirations on the shelf for a season. "It's hard to watch that and not think about the opportunity, to see what they did and the sacrifices they've made," Hawes said of the Gators, who won back-to-back titles for the first time in 15 years. "Those are all factors that will ultimately contribute to the final decision."

Per NBA rules, college players are allowed just the one opportunity to test the waters as a underclassman, and by making this decision, Hawes has tacitly acknowledged that even if he were to return to Washington for a second year, it would be his last as a Husky.

"If I came back, I couldn't say for sure that next year would be my last year, but I think it's a reasonable assumption," he said.

But with the support he's already received from his parents, family members, teammates, friends and those in and around Washington basketball, Hawes knows that his final decision will be one that is received enthusiastically.

"We always knew that if he did come to the University of Washington that this day would come," Romar said of Hawes, who will not turn 19 until April 28th. "We knew that coming in, so since it's always been in the back of our minds, it doesn't keep us in limbo at a high level. It's something we knew would be inevitable. We knew he would take a hard look at this."

"When I committed here, part of the reason I came here (Washington) was to be able to play right away and contribute right away to help set myself up for the ultimate goal of reaching that next level," said Hawes.

"Doing it now is a great opportunity."

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