- Andy Katz, ESPN Senior Writer
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The NBA shortened the individual team-workout window to roughly 12 days for underclassmen this spring, making the decision seemingly easier on the players (reducing expenses) and for the teams (shortening their workout schedules).
In years past, teams would work out players over the course of a month, driving costs up for those trying to retain their eligibility (the only thing the NBA can pay for is the draft camp), and flooding teams' workout facilities with a plethora of prospective draft picks.
But instead of the shorter window making a decision to stay in the draft easier, it clearly has made it harder for someone like Washington freshman center Spencer Hawes. He's looking at the period from the end of the Orlando predraft camp physicals on June 6 to the early-entry withdrawal deadline of June 18 as too little time to make a prudent decision.
This is Hawes' dilemma: He knows he has a shot at the lottery -- likely somewhere in the middle to late -- but without fully working out for everyone, he might not get a true gauge of where he stands. If that's the case, then maybe he'll go back to Washington where he should get stronger and hope to land higher in the 2008 draft.
It's all hard to digest as Hawes continues to go to school in the final quarter in Seattle. His parents, Lisa and Jeff Hawes, are wrestling with the decision, too, as his coach, Lorenzo Romar, sits idle, offering support but not pressuring him in any way.
"The window is down to 12 days, and in the current system it's hard to truly test the waters," Hawes said. "We're lucky that we can afford [to travel for workouts], but there is a fine line to staying eligible that makes it hard to test, to legitimately do it."
Hawes is on a tight schedule. He's working out three times a day. He has a weight regimen. Last weekend, he and his mother went to Los Angeles for his 19th birthday. There Hawes had a workout with IMG Academy's Joe Abunassar, something Hawes said he might do a few more times.
He's planning on going to the Orlando predraft camp for the physical-only portion. Then Hawes goes on a whirlwind tour of the NBA, dependent upon where the lottery teams are slotted on May 22 and who needs a skilled big man.
Meanwhile, he's up to 250 pounds after dropping down to 227 during the season when he had a virus that seriously affected his game.
"It was frustrating to stay at the level I wanted to play because it was hard to take the pounding being so light," Hawes said. "I couldn't play up to my standards. It was out of my control."
"There's no question that it affected him," Romar said of Hawes' illness. "He couldn't take the pounding and he couldn't practice consistently. It's hard for him to be evaluated on this year. He just wasn't healthy during this time. With him I do think it will come down to the last hour."
His mother said her son didn't look well.
"He had a weird virus thing that stayed with him for four or five weeks," Lisa Hawes said.
"I don't think people realized how sick he was," Jeff Hawes said. "He did all he could to play through it. He's gotten much stronger and he has put the weight back on and he's looking good."
Hawes ended up averaging 14.9 points and 6.4 boards in 31 games as the Huskies finished a disappointing 19-13 overall, 8-10 in the Pac-10. Not only did they not get into the NCAA Tournament, but they were stunned to miss the NIT, too (the Huskies were waiting to go on the practice floor on Selection Sunday night when they watched the NIT selection show and never saw their name pop up on the screen).
Hawes' mother, Lisa, said she believes that playing in the Northwest, and not on national TV much, might be factors in Hawes not being evaluated at as high a level. "The [scouts] may be surprised to see him at the camp and in individual workouts."
Not all would be. Said one high-ranking NBA team official: "Hawes' skill level is so high that he's going to be a high pick (whenever he comes out)."
Romar expects Hawes to work out for a number of teams. Hawes already has scanned the rosters of possible lottery teams and highlighted Sacramento as a possible destination, since he could work with Brad Miller, and also saw potential with Chicago, which owns New York's lottery pick.
Jeff Hawes said he and Spencer will sit down once the official early-entry list comes out and assess all of the candidates. The family also is conscious of decisions by other possible lottery picks who are on the fence, like Georgetown's Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert. They also could be in a tough predicament of trying to squeeze in enough workouts from June 6-18.
Hawes said he has no issues with returning to Washington. As Romar said, if Hawes comes back, the Huskies could have a "special season," in what could be a monster Pac-10. Six of the conference's teams were ranked in my latest top 25 on ESPN.com and Washington wasn't one of them. The Huskies would return their top seven scorers with Hawes, including forwards Jon Brockman (14.2 ppg), Quincy Pondexter (10.7) and guards Ryan Appleby (10.5) and Justin Dentmon (10.1).
"We changed the way we played in the past [with Hawes in the post rather than the uptempo days of Nate Robinson and Brandon Roy]," Romar said. "And [if he's gone] we'll be capable of changing again. Jon Brockman came into his own and we can build on what he did. Quincy Pondexter would step up and I think Justin Dentmon will make a big contribution. Ryan would also add more to his game."
Hawes still is stinging from not going to the NCAA Tournament. He said that also factors into his decision, but the reality is he has to think about himself. And if the opportunity is right for him, even after a cramped time frame, he's going to go.
"It's complicated and it's hard to say it's 50-50 right now," said Hawes, who added that his family has deflected any agent recruitment (which they said hasn't been so bad) so he can concentrate on working out. "At the end of the day, I have to be selfish with this decision. That's what everyone has told me. You have to do what's best for you. You have to make the best judgment you can."
Andy Katz is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
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