Illinois State is trying to build on last season’s NIT appearance and 22-win season and recently they embarked on a 10-day trip to Spain to play in four exhibition games. The Redbirds returned from that trip with a 3-1 record but the team also had to send home sophomore forward Deontae Hawkins, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.
The 6-foot-8 Hawkins missed the final two games of the team’s trip as he was sent home to Dayton. According to Jim Benson of the Bloomington Pantagraph, Hawkins started fall semester classes on campus with his teammates on Monday, but he remains suspended. Having Hawkins back on campus after being sent home is a good sign that he will return to the team at some point.
It’s hard to say what Hawkins did to get sent home, but Illinois State could really use him this season as he was a key player down the stretch last season. During his freshman year, Hawkins played 22.4 minutes per game and averaged 7.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. He started nine of the team’s final 11 games during the 2014-15 season.
Illinois State forward Deontae “Teddy” Hawkins will have plenty of opportunities to show his skills in the Missouri Valley Conference during the 2014-15 season, but it won’t come against Wichita State.
That’s because the 6’8” Hawkins, who signed with the Shockers in the fall of 2011, will have to sit out both of Illinois State’s games against Wichita State during the 2014-15 season as part of a ruling by the Missouri Valley Conference and league commissioner Doug Elgin, according to a report from Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo! Sports.
Since Hawkins jumped from one Valley program to another, he fell under a rule that made him sit out two years for any intra-league transfer but Illinois State petitioned for a waiver for Hawkins since he had never actually enrolled at Wichita State or took a class at Wichita State as the rule indicates.
The Redbirds asked the Valley to allow Hawkins to play in all Missouri Valley contests in 2014-15 except the two games against the Shockers and the Valley agreed to the proposition after a meeting with five league officials.
“We think it served to protect the balance of interests between Wichita State, Illinois State and also the conference,” Elgin said in the Yahoo! Sports story. “There are competing interests when you have a situation like this, and all of these kinds of cases are complex. There was an initial consideration that he’d sit not only the two regular season games against Wichita State but also should the two meet in the tournament, but it was decided the two games were enough.”
Hawkins didn’t qualify academically at Wichita State after initially signing the letter of intent and enrolled at Quakerdale Promise Academy for a year of prep school for the 2012-13 season. Hawkins then committed to Illinois State this fall and because of his status as a non-qualifier, is not allowed to play or practice with the Redbirds throughout the 2013-14 season. Hawkins will have four years to complete four years of eligibility beginning with the 2014-15 season.