Spencer Hawes: I think it was kind of a combination from both ends, where I knew I was going to have that opportunity going in and part of what I was looking for was the opportunity to be a major contributor right away and to put myself in that opportunity. With all the schools I was looking at, that was one of the factors.
Roger Bohn: How big of a factor was that?
Spencer Hawes: I think it comes hand in hand with being one and done. To me they kind of knew that having the opportunity to be the guy and the opportunity to go to the NBA kind of just follows through.
Roger Bohn: Honestly, how much was the NBA on your mind during the season?
Spencer Hawes: A lot, its hard not to think about. You know, I was lucky that I didnt have to deal with all the agents. But its still on your mind. You cant just not think about it.
Roger Bohn: Looking back on things, your team was a little disappointing this year, was there anything you think you could have done more to get your team possibly to the NCAA tournament.
Spencer Hawes: I think in retrospect, I could have been a better leader. I could have been more decisive in trying to put the team on my back. I think we just had a tough season, a lot of close games just didnt go our way, and you cant change the past.
Roger Bohn: We touched on the fact that everyone is knocking you on your athleticism, well as you know the other thing everyones knocking you for is your rebounding average, with only six rebounds a game. Why was that, given you were such a good rebounder in high school?
Spencer Hawes: I think early I was kind of adjusting to the game when I was really focused on boxing out more than just going to get the ball. You do so many drills in practice with boxing out, where if youre not boxing out youre doing something wrong. I think as the season went on and my numbers went up, I think it just helped me going after the ball and not so much focusing on the fundamental side. I think going after it and getting it, when I started doing that my numbers started going up considerably. I think also playing with someone like Jon (Brockman), who is one of the top rebounders in the country, he steals a few balls here and there, and you can kind of get a sense, depending on him, he gets so many of them, that there are not a lot to go around when youre playing with a guy like that.
Roger Bohn: You mentioned that you guys are on the quarter system; you said you get out June 8th?
Spencer Hawes: It depends; Im going to try to adjust my finals so I can get out before the pre-draft camp. [editor: May 29th]
Roger Bohn: Thats what I was going to ask. Your school doesnt get out until June 6th, June 4th at the earliest and the camp starts on May 29th. Youre going to be faced with the choice of leaving Seattle and not finishing the semester, or 100% finishing the semester and just training in Seattle during that time?
Spencer Hawes: Its tough to say right now and thats something I need to work out, with trying to get them done early or look at other alternatives. Thats something Ill worry about when we get a little closer to that time.
Roger Bohn: Have you set a timetable about if or when you are going to sign an agent?
Spencer Hawes: You know, I think that after the teams get slotted, the lottery balls work themselves out, I think then Ill be eager to really start looking at that and team needs and that kind of stuff. But Im not in any hurry right now.
Roger Bohn: If Im an NBA GM, tell me why you are the next best center prospect in this draft after Greg Oden.
Spencer Hawes: I think I bring a rare skill in a big guy, not only being able to score on the block, which in the NBA is hard to come by, but also, being able to pass. I say with that combination of skills, I think that anybody that runs a team can see that value, especially in a big guy because it brings then a whole new angle. I dont think Im a great defender yet, but Ive made great strides there, being able to block shots. I think my main skills are on the offensive end, being a big guy that can shoot it, handle it a little bit, score, and especially pass.
Roger Bohn: Jonathan briefly touched upon it, the touches on the low block and having to go outside to score. Is that what youre looking to do in the NBA? Do you want to play the role you played at Washington or are you looking to do a little more work on the low block?
Spencer Hawes: I think my position is a center, and you know, I think being able to shoot and handle it from the outside are good compliments to my back to the basket game. I think, ultimately, thats where my strengths are.
Roger Bohn: So you think youll be more down low in the NBA than you were this year at Washington?
Spencer Hawes: Yeah, I think a lot of it at Washington had to do with running the high/low so effectively with Jon (Brockman). At Washington I played most of the time on the block. I think it can go either way. You go where the mismatch is. Sometimes for me it will be shooting it and sometimes it will be on the block. It depends. I think Im a center.
Jonathan Givony: What do you think about the comparison we made between you and Andrew Bogut? Do you think that is fair, or did we just pick that because you are both white and seven feet tall?
Spencer Hawes: No, I think thats a good one. I kind of enjoyed watching him in college and I kind of modeled my game after him, especially the passing side of it, and everything he can do coming from the high post, how effective he can be breaking down the defense from there. Ive watched his game a lot, but over the years Ive tried to emulate Duncan the most and him being able to step out to the high post and being able to hit the bank shot, and everything he can do from there.
Roger Bohn: I was just going to ask you, you know, you went up against a lot of future NBA centers this year, DeVon Hardin, both the Lopezs, Aaron Gray, were you more pumped up for those games than you were for your normal games, knowing they were going to be really crucial to your draft stock with all the scouts there?
Spencer Hawes: Yeah, I think its hard not when you know, individually you know whats on the line in those situations. The first game I struggled against both the Lopez twins, it was kind of right when I was getting sick, not to make excuses. That especially motivated me for the second game when I knew I really had to bring it. The game against Aaron Gray, being out here in Washington we dont get many ESPN games, having that on national TV, and that big time individual match-up, you get jacked up for those.
Roger Bohn: Which one of those four guys were you most impressed with? After the game did you say, this guy is better than I thought?
Spencer Hawes: I didnt play against Hardin because he was hurt all year. But I think both the Lopezs are so talented by themselves, and when they play off each other, they almost kind of multiply, or whatever you want to call it. Youll be posting one of them up and youll beat him, and then it seems like they switch spots, and theres another one coming from the other side of the court. Theyre very difficult to play against by themselves, not to mention together.
Roger Bohn: Ive noticed from talking to you this year that you are a really, really big student of the game. For those big match-ups would you take out the extra time yourself to scout those guys and learn their tendencies?
Spencer Hawes: Definitely, especially before the second Stanford game. I went over with one of our assistant coaches, Coach Fortier, the week before. We looked at tons of game tapes from the first time we played. I pulled out the tapes from AAU when I had a lot more success against them. I remember that game especially, learning their tendencies and how they split their tendencies. I kind of used their shot blocking against them to a certain extent and I think that helped out a lot in me being successful.
Jonathan Givony: Besides the right wing conservative blogs of course, are there any websites that you like? Other than the Drudge Report.
Spencer Hawes: I heard ESPN was giving me a little bit of a hard time for that.
Jonathan Givony: You saw that with Henry Abbott on TrueHoop today?
Spencer Hawes: Jon Brockman, one of my teammates showed me. I got kind of a kick out of that. Everyone is pretty much a liberal in Seattle. I respect their beliefs and their opinions, but I have mine and its not like Im just jumping on the bandwagon. Its been this way for a while. Ive been fighting them off for a while. I still stay strong with what I believe in.
Jonathan Givony: So a red state or a blue state, which one do you prefer in terms of where youre going to be drafted?
Spencer Hawes: That doesnt matter to me. Ive been here, Ive been other places. At the end of the day, its fun to go back and forth, but its not the end of the world.
Roger Bohn: Are you going be one of those guys, once youre in the NBA, that speaks your mind on politics and stuff like that?
Spencer Hawes: I dont know. Im not going to be one to go force my beliefs on other people. But I think Im not going to try to downplay it when the questions come up. If people want to know my opinion, Im not going to hesitate to give it to them. But Im not going to try to force it on people or anything like that.
Jonathan Givony: Not to make a direct comparison per se, but when Dwight Howard declared for the draft, he said that he had some kind of dream where the NBA logo had a cross on it. People were saying that was really going to hurt him in terms of endorsements, that some in the mainstream were going to shy away. Well lo and behold, a few days ago he signs a forty million dollar deal with Adidas. So I guess speaking your mind doesnt hurt you financially as some people might have thought.
Spencer Hawes: I said a couple things about my beliefs. But I dont think stating them out in public is going to hurt me. I think some people take it a little too seriously. That's how I was raised, to speak up for what I believe in and defend my points. If saying that takes away something, then thats my fault. But at the end of the day, I dont think its going to be that big of a difference, in terms of that.
Jonathan Givony: I think you should keep it up. I mean that is what makes America what it is.
Spencer Hawes: Exactly. This is what separates our country from so many others. You have the opportunity to say what you want and speak your mind.
Roger Bohn: How much do you guys actually pay attention to mock drafts? How much do players actually pay attention to that?
Spencer Hawes: I think it depends a lot on the individual. I think you pay more attention when it shows you what you want to see. It kind of depends. Its hard to say, especially this year, because everything is so far away. Theres still over another month until even the combine starts and the workouts after that have such a big effect. You definitely look at them, but you try to take them with a little bit of a grain of salt.
Jonathan Givony: What about other players? Do you guys talk about that amongst yourselves? I know you were hanging out with Durants parents during the tournament. Is that something that comes up ever in conversations?
Spencer Hawes: I think a little bit, but not really that much. When I was hanging out with Kevin and his dad, that was kind of the last thing that we were talking about. You try to focus, as much as that engulfs your life, you try to focus on the other stuff to try to get away from that at some point, as hard as it is to do.
Roger Bohn: History has shown that some players who have a strong NCAA tournament, like Patrick O Bryant maybe, often get picked a little higher than they should. Do you think a little too much emphasis is being placed on how well a guy does in the NCAA tournament rather than what they do in the regular season, with you being a guy who didnt get an opportunity to play in the tournament?
Spencer Hawes: Obviously Im going to be on that end of the spectrum. I think you definitely have to reward kids for having great tournaments, but I think when youre looking at something, especially as valuable as a draft pick, a high draft pick, I think you really have to look at, obviously, potential and what kind of player they are now. But I think you have to look at the whole stretch of the season. Especially what they do against the best players and how they fare against guys. Sometimes you can play a lot of guys where you dont have the best competition, so you kind of have to look at big games and how that fares.
Jonathan Givony: Spencer, youve been awesome. Maybe we can catch up in a month, or whatever, when we get a little bit closer to the draft?
Spencer Hawes: Not a problem. Whenever you guys need me, give me a call.
Jonathan Givony: Thanks a lot Spence. We will be in touch.