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Originally published June 1, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified June 1, 2007 at 2:02 AM

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NBA Draft | Hawes moving closer to his dream

The star power inside the Radisson hotel was enough to convince Spencer Hawes that he had indeed arrived. During his first day at the NBA...

Seattle Times staff reporter

What's next


June 18: Last day for underclassmen to withdraw from draft.

June 28: NBA draft in New York. Sonics have the No. 2 pick in the first round and Nos. 31 and 35 in the second.

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ORLANDO, Fla. — The star power inside the Radisson hotel was enough to convince Spencer Hawes that he had indeed arrived.

During his first day at the NBA pre-draft camp, he sat inside a room that included Texas freshman Kevin Durant and North Carolina's Brandan Wright. Outside in the lobby, three Florida Gators who won consecutive national titles — Al Horford, Corey Brewer and Joakim Noah — waited for their turns to face a Q&A session with the media.

"When you go in there and you do that interview and it says NBA draft, that really makes you feel a little bit closer to living that dream," said Hawes, a freshman at Washington. "These are guys you watch all year long on TV. Being in Seattle, we don't get the type of exposure they do, so it's kind of neat to see everybody here. ... There's just an excitement just being here."

Hawes didn't exactly light it up his only season at Washington, though he led the Huskies in scoring with 14.9 points and was second on the team with a 6.4 rebounding average. Still, the 7-footer is believed to be the second-best center in the June 28 draft, which virtually guarantees his days as a Husky are over.

For 30 minutes, Hawes answered what seemed like the same question more than two dozen times:

Are you staying in the draft or returning to Washington?

What's next


June 18: Last day for underclassmen to withdraw from draft.

June 28: NBA draft in New York. Sonics have the No. 2 pick in the first round and Nos. 31 and 35 in the second.

Early in the interview, he said: "It's a fair question. It's what everyone wants to know. If I find a team that is serious about me and serious about taking me high in the draft, then I'm probably going to stay in the draft."

Minutes later, he said: "Everyone understands the situation I am in. Teammates really see the things that some of the people on the outside, the fans, don't see: the ability to achieve that dream and play at that level. It's something the common fan or passerby doesn't appreciate as much."

As he was walking out the door, he said: "This is tough. It really is. I loved playing at Washington. There's so much that I didn't get done, but this opportunity is a once-in-a-lifetime thing."

For the moment, Hawes is still a Washington freshman and the centerpiece of the Huskies' program.

This weekend, he's studying for a final exam he'll take Monday in a murder-sociology class, and enjoying what are likely his final days as a college student-athlete.

Once Hawes finishes with the final, he will begin taking his first serious steps toward the NBA. He's scheduled to work out for Minnesota on Wednesday, Chicago on Friday and Sacramento on June 14 or 15.

He has yet to sign with an agent, which gives him the option of returning to Washington for his sophomore season.

Many NBA scouts believe Hawes will fall between picks seven and 12.

Minnesota has the seventh pick, Chicago is ninth and Sacramento is 10th.

Hawes also said he might work out for Philadelphia, which picks 12th.

"Chicago is a unique situation because they have a high pick, but that's an established team," Hawes said. "Chicago would be a good fit. ... Sacramento, with the way they use Brad Miller, that's how I like to play, so I'm curious about them. And then there's Minnesota. Who wouldn't want to play with Kevin Garnett?"

Because of a new NBA rule, teams can begin individual workouts on June 5, and underclassmen like Hawes have until June 18 to withdraw from the draft.

"Only having 12 days to work out for teams makes it almost to the point of unrealistic to make a decision," Hawes said.

Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or pallen@seattletimes.com

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