The recruiting battle over Spencer Hawes continues to grow.
Several major Division I college coaches have recently made long road trips to see Seattle Prep's 6-foot-11, 225-pound center, who is ranked the No. 8 prospect from the class of 2006, play.
That group includes North Carolina head coach Roy Williams and assistant coach Steve Robinson, Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt, Gonzaga head coach Mark Few, Stanford head coach Trent Johnson. assistants from Florida and Kansas and others.
"It's cool to have all the attention," Hawes said. "I have seen all the coaches come to see my teammates in AAU tournaments that it's nice to be on the other side of things the second time around and be the guy they are looking at."
Hawes plays on Seattle's Friends of Hoop AAU team that includes two of the top-ranked players from the class of 2005 -- Washington commits Jon Brockman and Martell Webster (who also plays for Seattle Prep).
Williams and Robinson watched Hawes play in the City of Palms Classic -- which featured many of the nation' top prep programs and top players -- in Fort Myers, Fla., in mid-December. Robinson also came to Seattle to see Hawes in the fall.
How did Hawes feel that he performed in front of the big-name coaches in the highly-touted tournament?
"I think I played pretty well," he said. "I was a little inconsistent at the start, but I started to settle down.
"It was almost like going back to AAU tournaments. That's how good the level of play was. It definitely wasn't like a normal high school game. The players were really talented and I thought that I proved I can play at a national level."
Seattle Prep went 2-2 in the tourney, losing a hard-fought game to Jacksonville Arlington Day 64-62, but Hawes says the experience has really helped him and his teammates.
"It's really paid off facing that type of competition," Hawes said. "Right after coming back from the City of Palms we won our first game by 25 and the next by 43. We are playing a little better and we are now 9-2 overall and 7-0 in our league."
Earlier in the year, Hawes helped Seattle Prep beat Rainer Beach, 65-60, in one of the nation's biggest prep matchups. Webster, who is now healthy after recovering from a handful of minor injuries, scored 25 points and Hawes added 16.
Hawes said that he hasn't started to narrow the long list of schools he is considering. Arizona, Duke, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Gonzaga, NC State, Kansas, Texas, Stanford, UCLA, and Washington are all in the mix and Arizona, NC State, Kansas, Texas, UCLA, Arizona, and Washington have already offered scholarships.
"I'm still wide open and I haven't set any official visits in stone yet," Hawes said. "I anticipate that I will take some in the spring before AAU gets going full boar."
Kansas and UNC are considered to be two of the favorites to land official visits from the highly-coveted big man.
UNC has offered a handful of scholarships to top prospects from the class of 2006, but that list doesn't include Hawes yet.
"UNC hasn't officially made a conditional offer," he said.
Still, expect Hawes to become one of UNC's top targets soon. Williams and his staff are planning on signing at least two big men from the class of 2006 and Hawes has followed the Tar Heels for years. Plus, he has said that he wants to choose a program that is full of tradition and recent success.
For the next three months, Hawes doesn't plan on making any big recruiting decisions.
"We are looking to win a state title and that is everyone's goal," he said. "We are going to do whatever it takes."
Seattle Prep plays four games in the next six days. Carolina Blue will check back with Hawes after that difficult stretch.