Getting To Know Spencer Hawes

Getting To Know Spencer Hawes
Jul 19, 2006, 01:55 am
DraftExpress Director of Prep Scouting Rodger Bohn recently had the chance to chat with incoming Washington freshman Spencer Hawes. Hawes told DraftExpress of his summer workouts with Robert Swift, his reasoning for choosing Washington, and his experience going up against the #10 pick in this year’s NBA draft Saer Sene in the Hoop Summit, among other things.


The 7’0 center is one of the more interesting incoming freshman in the country, in that he has the offensive skills to immediately step in and become a top big man in the PAC-10. His arsenal of post moves is unparalleled at the collegiate level by any center prospect, as Hawes has every single move in the book, as well as a counter move in case he is cut off by a defender. What makes him even more lethal however is that he has can finish around the rim with either hand equally well. This will keep more athletic defenders guessing as to which hand Spencer will use, and also allows him to fully use his body to shield off opposing shot blockers when going up.

The Seattle native possesses remarkable hands for a center prospect, which guards at any level love to see. While he is no Andrea Bargnani, Hawes is more skilled on the perimeter then your average 7-footer. He can consistently knock down the mid range jump-shot, and possesses above average ball-handling skills that help him in transition. The future UW standout also reads opposing defenses exceptionally well, allowing him to see double teams coming and find the open man with ease. Simply put, it’s difficult to name more than a handful of center prospects with a more polished offensive game that came out of high school in the last ten years. Most would say that the NBA age limit is to thank for that.

Officially measured by USA Basketball at 6’10 ½ without shoes with a 7-1 wingspan and a 9-1 standing reach, Hawes already has excellent size for a center prospect. He has a good frame, which should easily allow him to add another 20 or so pounds if he chooses to do so. More impressive is the coordination and motor skills that the McDonald’s All-American brings to the table for a player of his size. These motor skills help greatly in terms of post footwork, so he already has the leg up on the majority of other big men out there.

While Spencer isn’t a freak athlete by any stretch, he’s not the horrendous athlete that many have pegged him to be. We have been lucky enough to see athletic marvels such as Tyson Chandler and Greg Oden playing the center position in recent years, and thereby compare every other center prospect to those two freaks of nature. Hawes is a very fluid athlete, but only possesses average leaping ability. He mention that he tested out as the 7th best athlete in the 2005 Nike All-American Camp, which shows that he’s better athletically then many give him credit for.

Defensively, Hawes isn’t quite the imposing force that one would hope for in a player of his size. He possesses a fairly average wingspan for a center, and has never put up incredible shot blocking numbers. He does however use the cerebral aspects of his game to contain opposing centers, and hasn’t been a defensive liability at any level he’s played at so far

All in all, Hawes could very well be the most legit “one and done” candidate behind Greg Oden in the 2006 high school class. Players such as Kevin Durant and Thaddeus Young may have all the tools, but the Washington center is walking into a situation where he knows he’s going to get plenty of touches and will be the focal point of the offense, therefore making him the safer bet to bolt after his freshman season. Being a legit 7-footer who can run the floor and has both a wide array of skills and a high basketball IQ doesn’t hurt either.

Spencer Hawes Interview

Rodger Bohn: Spencer, what do you feel some of the strengths of your game are?

Spencer Hawes: I would say being an offensive interior presence. People say I have kind of an old school game. I go with the fundamentals instead of just trying to dunk on people like people do nowadays. Just strong fundamentals. That’s something that has always been stressed…by my coaches, by my Dad, by my uncle (former NBA player Steve Hawes). No matter how athletic a player is, fundamentals are still how the game is played and that’s still the most effective way of getting things done. My ability to shoot, handle the ball for a big guy, and my fundamentals on the block are my strengths.


Rodger Bohn: Speaking of your fundamentals, your footwork for a big man was unmatched at the high school level this past season. What kind of things did you do to achieve such great footwork?

Spencer Hawes: It’s kind of just repetition over and over again. You don’t call it “dummy defense”, but you just have someone step out and play on your back and kind of play you different ways. They make you go to counters, and then go to counters of counters. Practice makes perfect. When you get into games, it just becomes second nature which way you’re going. It helps for me to be able to score with both hands because then they really have to pick their poison as to how they want to defend you. Like I said, its repetition. It’s just reaction. You let your body go to work and kind of read the defense.

Rodger Bohn: Now that we’ve touched upon some of your strengths, let’s touch upon some areas of your game that you’d like to improve upon. Are there any particular facets of your game that you’re working on right now?

Spencer Hawes: I want to improve upon my ball-handling a little bit so I can be one of the guys to break a press in some situations. I already kind of do it now, but I want to get better at getting the ball off the boards, taking it up, and finish with a dunk or an assist. I think the big thing is defensively. I’m trying to work on my timing and shot blocking as a whole. I really want to become more of a defensive presence.

Rodger Bohn: Now you mentioned that you wanted to improve on your ball-handling a bit. Is that because you’re looking to become one of these new age big men who can handle the ball and play out on the perimeter? Or do you see yourself as more of a classical back to the basket center?

Spencer Hawes: I think long term, I don’t really know. I may project as more of a power forward than your classical center. The strengths of my game will always be that old school, back to the basket scoring ability. I’ll try and add things to it, to become one of the new age type players who can dribble and shoot it. The strengths of my game though will always be back to the basket and will always be inside, in my opinion.

Rodger Bohn: You were being recruited by literally every school in the country. What made you decide on Washington?

Spencer Hawes: It’s an opportunity to take a school that hasn’t really gotten past that Sweet 16 game to the next level. A lot of people say ‘Washington man, if they just had a big man. Not even to score, but just to keep people out of there. If they had a big man, he’d really be able to get a lot of buckets in that game.’ They run the perfect system for a big man who can run, where they’d really get featured. It’s a hometown school, and I have pride in that. I want to try to help do this for my city, and just take it to the next level. Coach Romar also…he’s just a great guy and a great coach, and I really appreciated that.

Rodger Bohn: Have you set any specific goals for yourself for next year?

Spencer Hawes: Winning is the ultimate goal. As we’ve seen with the guys from Florida, that’s the thing that makes a player look the best is to win. More then anything else, that will be my goal for next year.

Rodger Bohn: Now many of the recruiting services had you listed at 6’10 all year, but you measured out at nearly 7’1 with shoes at the Hoop Summit and Tournament of Americas. Did it feel good to put all those rumors to rest and hush the critics?

Spencer Hawes: Yeah, definitely. I got in there and I always knew I was taller then that. People said that I was 6-foot-10 and that I was undersized. When I got in there and measured at almost 7’1, it felt good to put those rumors to sleep.

Rodger Bohn: What types of things are you doing right now to improve on your game?

Spencer Hawes: I’m in the weight room. That’s the big thing. I’m working on everything that goes with that. I’m doing plyometrics and stuff to help my athleticism. Also, I’m just working out everyday with shooting, ball-handling, and working on my sky hooks. That’s the biggest thing that I’m trying to improve on so I can make that my go to move.


Rodger Bohn: Now you had mentioned to me previously that you’ve been training with Robert Swift quite often. Tell me what that’s like.

Spencer Hawes: Well when he’s in town not doing summer leagues and stuff…I don’t know if he’s playing this year, but I know that he’s out of town. We’ll usually play up at school and then afterwards we’ll go afterwards and just do stuff one on one. Just competitive little games and it’s real good for me, and I think for him. Just to go up against a guy who’s a legitimate NBA starting center with size that you don’t usually see.

Rodger Bohn: Speaking of Robert Swift, he was one of the last true center prospects to enter the draft out of high school before they put the age rule in. Had the NBA not instilled it’s age limit, what would you have done?

Spencer Hawes: It would have been something that I would have had to considered with my family, my coaches, and stuff like that. I couldn’t tell you how close I was to going or not going because realistically, when they put in the rule, I wasn’t really one of those guys who was getting talked about. Then it took a little bit longer for people to start throwing my name in there. When it happened, it was so far away from the NBA Draft that it was hard to speculate either way.

Rodger Bohn: While we’re talking about this year’s NBA Draft, you had the chance to go up against the 10th pick in the Hoop Summit, Saer Sene. Did you ever have any clue that you were going up against a potential lottery pick at that time?

Spencer Hawes: I had no idea who he was. I saw him in the hotel and that was about as much background information as I had on him. He came out and he just started blocking all our shots. That’s when you have to start adjusting your game a little bit. Not too much though, because you don’t want to go outside of what you do, but you just have to make minor adjustments against guys that athletic and as long as he is.

Rodger Bohn: What adjustments do you make personally against an athletic center like Sene?

Spencer Hawes: You just have to throw in more of your counters. You can’t just go in and turn around and shoot jump hooks against a guy like that. You may have to throw in an up and under, or throw up a hook that you know he might block to give those guys a certain mindset. If they block your first shot, most guys are going to think they can block everything you put up. So if you throw up something that you know they may block, then you know for the rest of the game you know they’re going for everything you put up. That’s when you can use your counters and use their athleticism and shot blocking abilities to your advantage, rather to theirs.

Rodger Bohn: Who is the toughest player you’ve ever went up against?

Spencer Hawes: Greg Oden.

Rodger Bohn: Why is that?

Spencer Hawes: He’s just so big and strong. He just imposes his will. Wherever he wants you to go, that’s sometimes where you have to end up going. The potential he has to become a great player, I don’t think that anyone has had that as long as I can remember in terms of a high school center.

Rodger Bohn: Well that about covers everything Spencer. Thanks for your time, and best of luck next year at Washington.

Spencer Hawes: Thank you.

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