Hawkins will sit out next season

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- New Mexico State men's basketball coach Reggie Theus announced Tuesday that former Utah forward Justin Hawkins has signed an offer to play with the Aggies.

Theus said Hawkins, who played two seasons at Utah, will sit out next season in accordance with NCAA transfer rules and will have two seasons of eligibility beginning in 2006. Theus said time off the court will help Hawkins polish his skills.

"He's a guy that needs a little extra time to work on his shot and I have no doubt in my mind that he will make great strides in the year that he sits out," the coach said. "He'll still be able to practice with us and we'll learn a lot about him and his game while he gets the chance to learn how to play the perimeter."

Hawkins, who started 27 games last season, was honorable mention all-Mountain West after averaging 8.5 points and 4.2 rebounds. As a freshman, he played in all but three games and averaged 4.7 points and 2.6 rebounds in conference action.

Hawkins is the first player to sign with the Aggies since Theus took over the program in March.