Dominique Hawkins on his trip to China and next season (video and transcript)

By • on June 13, 2014 • Filed under: Basketball

From UK sports video

Kentucky Wildcats TV: Dominique Hawkins Press Conference

From UK Athletics

Kentucky Men’s Basketball
Dominique Hawkins Media Availability
Thursday, June 12, 2014
Memorial Coliseum – Lexington, Ky.

Dominique Hawkins

On the food in China …

“Oh my gosh, I don’t even want to talk about it. I found something that I ate almost every day. It was like rice and eggs. There was some kind of steak they made, too. They didn’t cook it all the way, but I was surviving on that type of meat. All of us were like trying to find something that we all knew we could eat and we could have confidence it won’t make us sick or anything. I thought it was going to be like Panda Express and it just disappointed me, but I had a great time when I was there.”

On if he lost weight …

“I think I lost 10 pounds to be honest. I came back and I met with my high school coach and he let me go back in the gym and use the weight room, so I feel like I gained most of it back.”

On the experience overall he had …

“The experience was great. I was so glad that I was able to go. At the beginning I was thinking I wasn’t going to want to go because I wanted to spend time with my family. I ended up spending time with them. It was really different, but it was really cool, too. When we were playing basketball, it was the weirdest thing ever; fans were smoking cigarettes while I was playing. It wasn’t at every game; it was just a few games where they were smoking. We played against some pro teams, and we played against Lithuania, the Chinese pro team, and the Chinese had this player – we called him Yao Ming – he was 7’2”, but he didn’t have the skill level. It was just neat to play against different people and learn a bit about their language.”

On the culture shock he experienced …

“Everywhere we went with the traffic was crazy, and there was smoke everywhere. I don’t think they have a smoking age. We were walking around the mall and stuff and we would see 14-year-olds outside smoking a cigarette. It was pretty weird, but it was cool to experience that.”

On the places they went …

“We did a lot of traveling. I know the cities, but I can’t say their names. We went to five different cities to play games.”

On his popularity in China …

“I felt like I was in Kentucky because the people just rush up to you and they will say hello. They knew how to say hello and then they’ll go on and take pictures and stuff like that. It was pretty neat. Most of the people there are pretty aggressive. They come up and grab you and they don’t ask – they just want the picture and grab you and say ‘picture.’ Other than that, they were really nice and friendly. They will bow to you after you take the picture with them and stuff like that. It was pretty cool.”

On how he got on the Sports Reach program …

“There is a little bible study that we do after the game, and Matt is his name, and he called them for me and basically said I would probably be one of the guys that would want to go. Robby Spear, who runs Sports Reach, he was able to let me come with them and I am thankful for him. I had a great time.”

On the dunk contest he won …

“The first dunk – I don’t know what it is – It was like a backwards dunk where you go between your legs. The last dunk, I lobbed it to myself and then wind milled it. They didn’t really have any other athletic guys on the other team. On our team, I went against a guy from Southern Illinois, and he was pretty athletic. I thought I wasn’t going to win. I never get in dunk contests because I never think I’m going to win. It felt good to win a dunk contest for the first time.”

On his offensive play …

“I feel like I did great. Anytime I was open I ended up shooting the ball and that was definitely what the fans wanted me to do and that’s what Coach Cal wants me to do, too. I was way more aggressive on the offensive side when I was there. I was able to make good plays on defense as well and I just feel like I made good plays on defense as well. All-around, it was a good basketball experience.”

On being more aggressive on offense …

“I know what I’m capable of doing on offense and everybody that watched me in high school knows I’m capable of scoring the ball really well. It’s just something that I need to work on and get in the gym more and get more shots. When I get in the flow I have a lot of confidence in myself to take that wide-open shot during the game.”

On his reaction to the Harrison twins coming back …

“My reaction – I was like ‘Yes!’ With them coming back, I feel like it takes the pressure off of me because if they didn’t come back, I would have to play a lot of minutes. I want to play a lot of minutes, but it takes a lot of pressure off me. I can just come in and play relaxed because they’re good leaders and great teammates and the brotherhood is just so close. I’m glad that they came back and that everybody came back, not just the twins. I feel like we have a special team and we are trying to do something that we weren’t able to finish up last year.”

On the importance of his offensive aggressiveness …

“It’s very important for me to be aggressive because I can be another factor for our offense and the team will be able to look at me and say that I will be able to score the ball – not just go in and play defense. When we get that going, we will be a better team when I can be more aggressive on offense.”

On if he’s had a chance to work with the new freshmen …

“I just got back yesterday with everybody, so I haven’t been around them much. We are going to get around them and I’ll figure out how everybody has been working on their game.”

On the amount of players coming in for summer work …

“It’s going to make us much better because our team chemistry definitely needed that going in. We all need to know how each other plays and the new freshmen coming in, too. It’s going to help them out to help us know them and help them know us. On the basketball court, you can’t just run out there and play. Each player and skill level has to go well and go smoothly.”

On being a world traveler …

“I didn’t think I was going to be traveling around the world. I just thought I was going to be traveling around state-to-state. God has blessed me, and I feel like I am the luckiest kid in Kentucky to be doing all of this traveling and playing on the best college team in the United States.”

On his favorite non-basketball experience …

“Going to the Great Wall. I enjoyed that the most. It took us about 20 minutes to get to the top. It was so funny because some of the teammates didn’t want to go up there, but they ended up sprinting up all the steps and I don’t even like heights, so I’m just looking at the stairs. I’m not looking over. I was able to make the top and it just felt like – I don’t really have words to be able to tell you how I felt to be able to go to China and experience the Great Wall. We saw the Emperor and it was just great to do all of that.”

On what he learned on the trip …

“We did bible study when we were there and it definitely got me closer to God. It lets me know that other people in the world are living a different life and I need to be fortunate for what I have because they don’t get everything that we have in the United States and also I forgot to say they don’t have Twitter or Facebook and Snapchat in China. Everything there was so fun and I feel like we have a lot more than what they do. It definitely makes me more appreciative of what we have and what they don’t have.”

On if it is hard to adjust to the China lifestyle …

“It is. I wanted to just get on Twitter and look at stuff and just see what’s going on. Almost everyday I did it, but I forgot – I just wake up and try and go on Twitter. I got used to it probably like a week or so into it.”

On if he feels overlooked by all the talent on this team …

“Not at all. I am blessed to be on this team. Coach Cal is the head coach and he knows what he is doing. If I don’t get that much time, I’m not going to pout about it because I know I need to work hard and try and prove to him that I need to be important.”

On the National Championship game …

“I kind of really put it out of my mind. I’m really excited for next year. I can’t wait to get going. We just want to continue to get better each and every day.”

On his advice to freshman for playing for Coach Cal …

“I would say get ready for anything that Coach Cal is going to say against you. Just be patient, you never know what is going to happen.”

On what he can help the younger players with …

“I feel like I can tell them a lot. I can’t tell them a lot because I’m only a sophomore. They’re only one year younger than me so I can only tell them as much as I learned last year.”

On if this experience helped his offense and defense …

“I believe so. I really didn’t know that I could play defense as well as I did last year. I feel like the defense that the coaches taught me last year made me a lot better defender and I know my offense will click in there for me, so I’m pretty confident about that.”

On the Chinese competition …

“It was definitely enough to help me. I would say the teams could play in the top 25 in college basketball. Well – not all of them – there were two teams. Two teams that could play in the top 25.”

On what he wants to improve on this season …

“I want to get better in my decision-making. I want to play point guard. Decision-making is one, dribbling I need to get better. I want to be able to shoot free throws way better. Last year, I think I didn’t take many, but I think I shot like 45 percent. I definitely need to be a more vocal leader. I need to talk more to guys and not be shy to say something to a guy if he screws up.”

On guarding Andrew (Harrison) and Tyler (Ulis) in practice …

“I never really thought about that. With Andrew, I feel like I have to be a little bit more physical with him because of my size. I usually don’t have to guard smaller players. I’m going to have to get a feel for it. I really don’t know how to guard Tyler.”

On who surprised him the most on staying …

“Willie (Cauley-Stein) surprised me the most. Everybody was telling me he was a lottery pick and people say that lottery picks should definitely leave and he surprised me the most out of everybody.”

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