Coleman Hawkins
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CHAMPAIGN — Coleman Hawkins has his signing day plan all set.

Family, friends and his Prolific Prep (Calif.) teammates will join him as he puts pen to paper on his National Letter of Intent to officially become the second member of Illinois’ 2020 recruiting class.

And he’s doing it right here in Champaign. Saturday at noon at Papa Del’s, the popular pizza joint along Neil Street.

First up, though, is Hawkins’ early debut in front of local Illini basketball fans — or ones that want to make the trip to Champaign. Prolific Prep plays at 8 p.m. Friday at Centennial against St. Louis Christian Academy in the first game of the Chambana Classic. The Crew will play again after Hawkins’ signing, with a 6 p.m. showdown on Saturday with Aspire Academy (Ky.) at Centennial.

Hawkins’ signing will be the fourth for his family. His oldest sister, Taylor, started her basketball career at Vincennes (Ind.) before finishing at Wiley College (Texas). Ashley also played at Vincennes before wrapping up her career at Evansville. Then there’s Bailey, who started at the College of Southern Idaho and is now a junior at Newman University (Kan.). Hawkins’ dad, Rodney, played at San Diego State.

“It’s a blessing,” Hawkins said about his upcoming signing. “Not a lot of families can say they have four children who got full-ride scholarships to play at the collegiate level. I’m grateful to be able to play the game of basketball — let alone at the college level.”

Four basketball-playing siblings meant plenty of hoops at home for the Hawkins family.

“We actually had a little halfcourt hoop in our backyard when we were younger,” Hawkins said. “We’d all go out there and have a little basketball practice. I remember those days. I was real young, and they used to beat me all the time and I’d get mad.

“It’s good to see my sisters were the first ones to travel (for school). I know what to expect. I’m not fearful to get out and explore. All my sisters did it before me. My dad did it. They can tell me how to handle college and different things like that.”

Hawkins found some family in Champaign, too, with Illinois basketball. It played a significant role in his decision to commit to Brad Underwood and Co. in late September and why he’ll sign Saturday.

“Feeling welcome and feeling at home was two big factors,” Hawkins said. “The coaching staff was super welcoming, as well as the players. There wasn’t anyone I felt that didn’t want me there. Like I told my dad, I can’t see myself being anywhere but there.”

Hawkins chose Illinois among a dozen other offers. Other programs involved in his recruitment included Power Six programs like Arizona, DePaul, Marquette, Rutgers, Southern California, Wake Forest and Washington State. His dad’s alma mater was also in the mix.

“Illinois was my second offer, so they were pretty early in the summer going into my junior year,” Hawkins said. “It was just really challenging to pick a school, and then I started going on my visits. I didn’t know where I wanted to go at first. As soon as I got to Illinois, it felt like home.

“There was a ton of activity going on campus. It’s a big school — tons of people there. There’s diversity on campus. The support system is crazy. As soon as I got off the plane, there were Illinois fans asking for pictures. It’s great.”

Committing in September and signing this weekend means Hawkins can turn his full attention to his final season at Prolific Prep. It’s what he wanted. The Crew, which also features a five-star backcourt in Nimari Burnett and Jalen Green, has some lofty expectations this winter.

“The end goal is not to lose a game,” Hawkins said. “We feel as if we have a team that can do that. The only team that can beat us is ourselves. If we can maintain what we have and play together and not let anything on the outside distract us, our goal is to not lose a game.”

College/Prep Sports Reporter

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is srichey@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).