Louisville Continues to Explore Adding Coleman Hawkins from Illinois.

Earlier this week, Louisville men’s basketball officially announced the signings of all their newcomers for the first year under new head coach Pat Kelsey. With 13 new players filling 13 open scholarships, one might assume the Cardinals are done constructing their roster.

However, that may not be the case.

According to CardChronicle’s Mike Rutherford, Louisville is exploring the possibility of adding former Illinois forward/center Coleman Hawkins.

“The info that’s out there right now is that Louisville is still looking to at least make an attempt to be involved with Illinois’ Coleman Hawkins, who officially announced yesterday that he’s withdrawing his name from the NBA Draft,” Rutherford said on his daily radio show, The Mike Rutherford Show, on Thursday.

Hawkins originally declared for the 2024 NBA Draft on April 23 after four years at Illinois. A week later, on the final day of the spring transfer window, he announced he would also be entering the portal to “protect myself in case of injury or any other unforeseen circumstances.”

Earlier this month, CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander reported on the Eye On College Basketball podcast that four schools, including Louisville, were at the forefront of potentially landing Hawkins should he withdraw from the NBA Draft process. Hawkins officially withdrew on Wednesday, the deadline to do so.

Louisville currently has no open scholarships, so how would they potentially land Hawkins? Rutherford noted that UofL still has “some excess NIL funds lying around” because their international signees can’t make NIL money the traditional way.

“I’m told that Louisville is at least going to Coleman Hawkins and saying, ‘We might be able to make upwards of $2 million work for you.’ That’s the number they’re tossing around out there,” Rutherford said.

Landing the 6-foot-10, 200-pound big man would significantly boost an already talented roster. Hawkins earned an All-Big Ten honorable mention this past season, averaging 12.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.1 blocks in 35 starts. He also shot 45.1 percent from the field and 36.9 percent from three-point range.

After struggling as a freshman, the Sacramento, Calif. native became a starter for Illinois over the next three seasons. In 126 games and 82 starts for the Fighting Illini, Hawkins totaled 979 points, 581 rebounds, 256 assists, 115 steals, and 102 blocks.

Following Louisville’s disastrous 2023-24 campaign, which resulted in the firing of second-year head coach Kenny Payne, the Cardinals’ roster began to transform. All 12 of Louisville’s scholarship players entered the portal, with only walk-on guard Aidan McCool expected to return.