By Kevin McPherson
LITTLE ROCK — His recruitment may be wide open right now, but 2019 Raymond Hawkins (6-10, 230, forward / center, Findlay Prep in Las Vegas, Oakland Soldiers on the Nike EYBL circuit) said his family ties to Arkansas and a budding relationship with the Razorbacks coaching staff are both positives as he moves forward in the recruiting process.
“I’m very interested (in Arkansas),” said Hawkins, adding that the Hogs have been recruiting him for about a month. “My grandfather was born in Little Rock, and I’ve got family that lives there. I’m building a relationship with (Arkansas assistant coach Scotty) Thurman, it’s an SEC school, their players are gritty, and they have a player there (freshman Reggie Chaney) who played at Findlay.“
Thurman — he’s Hawkins’ lead recruiter — and Arkansas associate head coach Melvin Watkins were on hand Thursday night as Hawkins scored 12 points in Findlay Prep’s 72-64 win over Trinity International at the prestigious Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas.
Hawkins, who will sign in the spring period that begins in mid-April, said he has not taken any official visits yet and that he has no leaders for his services at this time. He has reported offers from Kansas State, St. John’s, DePaul, Nevada, UNLV, Wyoming, and others.
“Maybe in February,” Hawkins said when asked if he was looking to take an official visit to Arkansas.
According to MaxPreps, Hawkins is averaging 15.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.0 blocks while shooting 63.2% from the field for the 11-0 Pilots.
Hawkins is a big-bodied space-eater who is nimble with good ball-handling skill and great instincts around the basket as well as in transition and facing the basket. Some aspects of his size and game are reminiscent of Hog alum Darnell Robinson, who also hailed from the Oakland (CA) area, who was at one time the all-time leading scorer in California at the high school level, and who was rated the nation’s No. 1 prospect by the Sporting News in the class of 1993.
“Yeah,” Hawkins answered when asked if Arkansas coaches have told him that he compares favorably to Robinson.
“I’m athletic, I rebound, and I bring a lot of energy,” Hawkins said. “I can put the ball on the floor and shoot in the mid-range. I’m very active, a leader.”
In addition to Hawkins, Thurman and Watkins were also watching / evaluating Dischon Thomas (6-9 forward, Hillcrest Prep in Phoenix) on Thursday at the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas. Hawkins and Findlay Prep against Thomas and Hillcrest Prep is a matchup set for Friday at the Tarkanian Classic.
Frontcourt and small forward / wing prospects have been the main focus of the Arkansas coaches as they continue to recruit the class of 2019.
The Hogs have an offer out to ’19 Doudou Gueye (6-9, 220, sophomore forward, Daytona State College juco in Florida) — a player that Hog coaches have watched play in person at least a couple of times. They also have an offer out to ’19 Javon Franklin (6-7 combo forward, Holmes, MS, Community College via Little Rock Parkview), who is redshirting with a broken leg and will have three years of playing eligibility at the NCAA Division 1 level beginning in ’19-20. Franklin intends to take an official visit to Arkansas in January or February.
Arkansas has also been evaluating at least three other frontline prospects in the ’19 class — Mahamadou Diawara (6-10, 220, forward/center, Massanutten Military Academy in Virginia, native of Mali, ESPN 4-star prospect), Demontay Dixon (a freshman qualifier at Walters State Community College in Tennessee), and Jalyn McCreary (a senior at Legacy Early College High School in South Carolina). Arkansas assistant coach T.J. Cleveland has traveled to watch Dixon and McCreary in recent weeks and Watkins is the lead recruiter for Diawara.
Arkansas signed one player during the mid-November early period — Justice Hill (5-11 point guard, Little Rock Christian Academy), who is expected to join the Razorbacks next week as an early enrollee.
Below is an extended highlight reel of Raymond Hawkins …