Busting Brackets

Kansas State Basketball: Why Coleman Hawkins is most important team transfer for 2024-25

Illinois v Arkansas
Illinois v Arkansas / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

After a brilliant debut season as head coach for Kansas State, Jerome Tang’s squad fell back down to earth in year two. It was still a solid finish for the Wildcats, who claimed 19th wins and were just a hair under .500 in league play in a strong Big 12. Regardless, Tang and his coaching staff certainly haven’t been sitting on their hands since the end of that campaign.

Numerous moving pieces have been in play for a Wildcats team losing their three top pieces from last season, as Tylor Perry ran out of eligibility and both Cam Carter and Arthur Kaluma transferred. Kansas State has added a few interesting pieces, including former Michigan guard Dug McDaniel and talented Samford big man Achor Achor, but one name floats to the top of the list.

Coleman Hawkins spent the last four seasons at Illinois during which he transformed from a backup forward to a menace who can affect the game in nearly every aspect. This past senior year not only saw Hawkins help lead the Fighting Illini to the Elite Eight, but also put up career-best numbers in almost every aspect. He made 37% of his 3-pointers, 80% of his free throws, and averaged double-figures for the first time in his collegiate career.

Hawkins is not a traditional big man; he’s a wing who can spread the ball and play all over the court. His addition becomes important for the Wildcats in that he fits so well with what they’ve already added this offseason. Both Achor and Ugonna Onyenso, a former backup center at Kentucky, plug up the paint while Hawkins secures a more diverse role in that frontcourt.

It’s important to remember that Hawkins played at Illinois with talented players like Ayo Dosunmu, Kofi Cockburn, and most recently Terrence Shannon Jr. He was never the first option on offense and we’re not pretending like he’s suddenly transform into that in Manhattan. He’s a valuable scorer, rebounder, and all-around weapon who makes everyone else around him just a little bit better. It’s a big reason why the Wildcats were willing to dip into their NIL budget as much as it took to bring him aboard.

Next. Top 25 team transfer winners for 2024-25. Top 25 team transfer winners for 2024-25. dark

The top scorer for Kansas State next season could certainly be McDaniel, and we easily could have highlighted him instead, but it’ll be intriguing to see what Hawkins does in his final season of eligibility. Can he take one more step forward and set himself up for the 2025 NBA Draft? Does his addition help propel Kansas State into position to get back to the Big Dance next March?