LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- UK Sophomore Dominique Hawkins said he was much more aggressive on offense and won a dunk contest but lost ten pounds during his recent trip to China with a team called Sportsreach.
“Oh my gosh, I don’t even want to talk about it, " said Hawkins about the food there. "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.”
Hawkins said he met with his high school coach to use the gym and workout and feels like he's gained back most of the ten pounds he lost. He also found a rather bizarre occurrence during his games there, lots of smoking in the arena.
“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.”
While the food may not have reminded Hawkins of home, the people in China did.
“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.”
The Madison Central graduate is glad to be back in his home state and glad a number of teammates from last year's team will be joining him again this fall, especially the Harrison twins.
“My reaction – I was like ‘Yes!’," continued Hawkins. "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.”
As for his favorite non-basketball experience during the trip, Hawkins said it was definitely climbing up the Great Wall, even though he doesn't like heights.