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Originally published April 5, 2007 at 2:58 PM | Page modified April 19, 2007 at 2:02 PM

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UW's Hawes will declare for NBA draft

Washington freshman 7-foot center Spencer Hawes said today he will declare for the NBA Draft but won't hire an agent, giving himself the option of returning to the Huskies next season.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Washington freshman 7-foot center Spencer Hawes said today he will declare for the NBA Draft but won't hire an agent, giving himself the option of returning to the Huskies next season.

But he admitted that for now, his thoughts are on the NBA.

"You have to go in focused 100 percent on what your goal is, so right now, my mindset is I'm trying to be as prepared as possible for the draft and to contribute at that level,'' Hawes said. "If I was on the fence or trying to satisfy both situations I'd be doing the team a disservice and I'd be doing myself the same, so I think right now, I have to focus as much on that side of it and see where things go from here.''

Hawes led the Huskies with an average of 14.9 points this season and was named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman team.

But Hawes admitted his season was in some ways a disappointment as the Huskies finished 19-13 overall and 8-10 in Pac-10 play and didn't qualify for the postseason, even being excluded from the NIT.

However, Hawes' NBA draft stock remains high. He is generally projected to be taken somewhere in the 10-15 range of the first round.

But Hawes said he isn't as concerned about what he's told about where he might get picked, but by which team.

"Right now, it's not about the number, but about the situation and the role I might play,'' Hawes said.

Hawes said he will participate in the pre-draft camp in Orlando, Fla., which starts May 29, then go through individual workouts with teams in hopes of gaining as much information as possible before making a final decision.

The deadline for underclassmen to pull out of the draft, as long as they haven't hired an agent, is June 18. The draft is June 28.

UW coach Lorenzo Romar said "it was inevitable'' when Hawes signed with the Huskies last year that he would consider leaving early and that he was not surprised.

"The rule was put in place for this very reason,'' Romar said. "To go out and test the waters and see what the experts think.''

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Hawes had a freshman season of fits and starts. He missed the first three weeks of practice after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. After hitting his stride in December and scoring 20 or more points in six of seven games, he suffered a stomach ailment and a sprained ankle that slowed him for most of January. Hawes said he lost roughly 20 pounds, and he missed a game at Washington State due to the ankle problem.

But he again had some impressive performances late in the season and scored more points than any freshman in UW history, with 461.

Hawes is the son of former Husky Jeff Hawes and the nephew of former Husky and NBA player Steve Hawes, and has said that his legacy at UW was important to him.

Asked how he would view his career if this were it, Hawes said, "I'd look back and say it was a tough year, both individually and as a team. But at the end of the day, there were so many things you could take from it and learn from it that it's hard to say it was a failure. I think on both levels, it was a success in a lot of ways. That's something that's another thing that plays into your mind and plays into your [final] decision. But at this point, you have to not focus on that as much as the current goal.''

Hawes said he thinks he would be ready to play in the NBA, but said the next two months are about making that determination for good.

"That's part of what the process is about, is going into these workouts and looking at different situations and finding that out,'' he said.

Hawes, who attended the news conference without wearing any Huskies gear, said he will mostly work by himself the next two months, though he intends to stay enrolled in school and will continue to play in informal pickup games with his UW teammates.

"My goal since I've been a kid was to go to the NBA and try to be a starter in the NBA and I think that's something I look forward to,'' he said. "If now is not the right time, then you are not disappointed about it but you just have to be patient. But if it is, then it would be the opportunity to fulfill that dream.''

UW coaches, knowing this was a possibility, have already taken steps to replace Hawes by signing 6-9 Matthew Bryan-Amaning last November. The Huskies will also return all but one other scholarship player, including forward Jon Brockman, and hope to get back 7-foot center Joe Wolfinger, who missed the season with a foot injury.

Romar said he remains optimistic Wolfinger will be healthy next season.

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