2021 four-star forward Bryce Hopkins is officially a Wildcat, committing to Kentucky over offers from Illinois, Providence, Indiana, Louisville, Wisconsin, Kansas and Michigan, among others.
Hopkins, a 6-foot-7, 220-pound forward out of Oak Park, IL, is considered the No. 30 overall prospect in the 2021 247Sports Composite Rankings.
How did the four-star prospect end up at Kentucky?
Following Hopkins’ commitment, his father, Clyde Hopkins, spoke with KSR about the decision and why the family felt Lexington was the best fit.
How does it feel to get the recruiting process over with?
It’s like a weight lifted up off us, man. Bryce is smiling, I haven’t seen that smile in probably over a month now. He’s really excited and is going to continue to work hard. Definitely excited.
How tough were the last several weeks?
It was really tough, especially for Bryce. Illinois did such a great job this second time around. We take our hats off to Illinois for doing such a great job. Coach Cooley [at Providence], just meeting Ed, his genuineness was really tough. Bryce had bonded with him really well. My wife being from the east coast, her brother went to school with Ed Cooley at Stonehill [College]. Bobby, which is Bryce’s uncle, was two years older than Ed. That relationship in itself was tough.
Did the decision officially come down to Kentucky, Illinois and Providence?
Indiana too. Coach Archie Miller, he’s always been great. He respected Bryce’s game, he came on really early during his recruitment and offered Bryce. Archie, it was tough saying no to him. It was really tough.
Illinois did a great job, it could’ve went either way, but Kentucky was always a dream school of Bryce’s.
Why was Kentucky the best fit?
I would just say the history there. Being pushed, being developed for that next level. Bryce really likes the way Cal develops his kids for that next level, which is the NBA. Bryce has always been up for the challenge.
How did the decision play out? When did he know UK was the choice?
I left that decision up to Bryce. I must say, maybe about a week ago, I was driving home from work and I get a text message from Bryce. I knew he was going back and forth with his relationship with Ed Cooley and the great job Illinois was doing the second time around. I was driving home from work, and Bryce sent me a text message that said, “Dad, I think I’m going to commit. I’m going to Kentucky.” I was like, “Wow.” It was out of the blue. I knew he was struggling going back and forth. When I got home, we sat down and I told him, “Man, just trust your decision. I want you to be 100% committed. You shouldn’t have any doubts, just trust your gut and go with it.”
He said, “I want to go to Kentucky and I want to play for Coach Cal.” I was like, “Hey, it’s done.” That’s when we reached out, contacted the guy to make the video, did it, and the rest is history.
The last few times we spoke, you said Kentucky was in consistent communication, but never pushy. Did they ever push hard for a commitment in the last week or so leading up to the decision?
They never got real pushy. We did talk to [his AAU program] Mokan [Elite], they were involved a lot. They communicated with Bryce. They were just always there, reaching out on a consistent basis to see where his head was at. But as far as Kentucky being pushy, no, they never got to that point.
What’s next for Bryce? Will he be recruiting other players to join him in Lexington?
He has been communicating with Skyy Clark, Nolan Hickman, they’ve been communicating. Daimion Collins, he just reached out to Bryce. They have a little chat room. They definitely communicate among each other. I told him, “Talk to the guys. You want to get on the same page as them.”
Is he excited about the challenge of competing against elite prospects at Kentucky?
Absolutely. I taught Bryce from day one to play the game the right way and trust his teammates. Bryce, he’s not a selfish player, plays the game the right way, he looks forward to playing with other great players and winning a championship. If they continue to put the pieces together, I think they have a great chance. He’s looking forward to it.
Bryce’s coach told me he believes your son can be the best player in college basketball by his sophomore or junior year. Do you think he can do that?
Absolutely. I know how we train. I always train Bryce to be the best. I must say, when Bryce gets with a great strength and conditioning guy to get his body to an elite level, the sky is the limit for the kid. His skill set is where it needs to be. Once I get his body to an elite level, the sky is the limit for him. We’re up for the challenge.
I know for a fact, if he just stays healthy and puts the Lord first, the sky is the limit for the kid. It doesn’t matter to me if he’s a one and done or a two-year pro, whatever. Just go there, do the right thing, listen to Coach Cal, soak up all the knowledge, get better, and just trust in your teammates and win. When the time is right, the Lord will call his number. We just all put it in the Lord’s hand and go from there, do what we need to do. Be a good teammate.
Bryce’s coach also praised his character and said his parents had a lot to do with him being a great kid. What does that mean to you?
I’m at every practice, every game, every training session, I’m watching every meal that he puts in his body, making sure he stays hydrated. I’m hands on, it’s like I’m in the gym working with this kid. I just look forward to it, I love it. It keeps me young. I’m training with him, running miles with him every day, lifting with him. I’m hands on, I’m all in. Whatever it takes for this kid to reach all his dreams and his goals, Bryce knows I’m invested, I’m in there with him.
I would give the shirt off my back, I’d give my life for this kid, just to help him reach everything that he wants to become. I’m all in, and my wife, she’s all in as well. We just enjoy the ride.
You can listen to Clyde Hopkins’ entire interview on KSR’s Sources Say Podcast below: