Did rumored UNC transfer portal target hint at leaning toward Tar Heels?

A UNC transfer target is either favoring the Tar Heels or trolling everyone.
North Carolina head coach Hubert Davis
North Carolina head coach Hubert Davis / Jacob Kupferman/GettyImages

Things are looking up for Hubert Davis and the North Carolina Tar Heels as UNC basketball eyes building upon earning a No. 1 seed in March Madness but then falling short with a loss to Alabama in the Sweet 16. Since then, though, they've done a quality job making sure they won't be going anywhere.

While Armando Bacot and Cormac Ryan are out of eligibility and departing and with Harrison Ingram likely gone as well, the Heels still have to feel great about the roster. RJ Davis is returning for another year in Chapel Hill, Seth Trimble removed his name from the transfer portal, Cade Tyson is coming in from Belmont by way of the portal, and 5-star freshmen Ian Jackson and Drake Powell enter the fray.

Yet, Davis and North Carolina don't appear to be done. Most have UNC looking for another big to pair with Jalen Washington in order to help replace the loss of Bacot. But another player that the Tar Heels have recently been connected to is Illinois forward Coleman Hawkins, who spent four years is Champaign.

And Hawkins may have sent a message (or maybe not) to Hubert Davis and the Heels on social media.

UNC basketball: Did transfer Coleman Hawkins tip hand toward Tar Heels?

It all started when a UNC basketball fan posted a jersey Photoshop of Hawkins in Carolina blue digs, which prompted the wing to respond, "Oh wow" with a laughing emoji.

Where things really got interesting, however, is when another X/Twitter user replied to say that the "shade of blue" wasn't his color. Hawkins responded to that by saying that he thought it really brought out his eyes.

Is making his "eyes pop" a connection to the Tar Heels? Is Hawkins teasing that Chapel Hill might be his next destination? Or is this a troll job?

Frankly, the truth probably falls somewhere in the middle. A possible Hawkins-to-UNC connection has already been reported, so we know that there is some interest there. That's not just the former Illinois standout toying with North Carolina fans for no reason. At the same time, though, he made a similarly coy remark soon after this exchange with a Louisville fan account as the forward asked to see the jersey swap for the Cardinals.

In the end, it feels like Hawkins might just be enjoying the process of being coveted in the transfer portal while possibly also gauging the reactions of different fan bases. That's mostly harmless, but also doesn't mean anything about where he is or isn't leaning.

As for what Hawkins could mean for UNC basketball, it could be a seamless fit. He and Jae'Lyn Withers, who incidentally transferred in from Louisville in 2023, could combine forces to essentially replace Ingram as a versatile wing. Hawkins averaged 12.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.1 blocks per game while shooting 36.9% from 3-point range with Illinois this past season, which fits somewhat in line with what we saw from Ingram.

There is certainly nothing definitive from what Hawkins had to say. However, this is definitely a situation to monitor moving forward as North Carolina remains in active pursuit in the portal.

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