Almost immediately after decommitting from Louisville, 2021 four-star forward Bryce Hopkins and his camp received a plethora of interest and scholarship offers from high-major programs throughout the country.
One of them? The University of Kentucky, and contact is picking up by the day.
After reaching out to Hopkins for the first time on Monday, the 6-foot-7, 220-pound forward’s father, Clyde Hopkins, confirmed with KSR that John Calipari called on Tuesday, followed by a virtual visit with Coach Cal and the Kentucky coaching staff on Wednesday evening.
What do fans need to know about Kentucky’s virtual visit with the Oak Park, IL native, who is considered the No. 33 prospect overall and No. 8 power forward in the 2021 247Sports Composite Rankings?
His father spoke with KSR moments after the visit to break down the conversation and update fans on the four-star forward’s recruitment.
Check out the full transcript below:
How did things go with Kentucky?
It went well, man. It was with Coach Cal and his staff, we did the video Zoom. Just seeing the facilities, getting to know Coach Cal as an individual and seeing how they do things over at Kentucky.
Did they extend an offer or did they say they’re going to take things slow?
Yeah, they’re going to take it slow. They didn’t offer tonight, no.
What was the timeline of events? I believe we first heard of UK’s interest on Sunday, then Kenny Payne called Monday. Did Coach Cal call Tuesday? So four straight days of contact?
Yes, [Calipari] did call Tuesday [before the full staff meeting Wednesday evening].
With contact becoming consistent, are you guys under the impression that an offer could come in the near future?
You know what? I don’t know. Coach was really interested in Bryce. I don’t know who else he’s recruiting, but I’m sure anything is possible. For him to reach out [as often as he is now], I’m sure one could be coming, yeah.
What did Bryce think about the conversation?
Bryce was really in tune with Coach [Cal] and his staff. He was impressed with the facilities and how they do things over at Kentucky.
Was it a complete virtual visit where they took you around campus? What exactly does that entail?
It was a complete virtual visit. We actually stayed on the call for a little over an hour. They were really thorough [showing off the facilities].
Which coaches were on the call?
Coach Cal was on there with Tony [Barbee]. What’s the other guy’s name, the tall one? [Joel Justus]. I’m so used to seeing Kenny Payne, you know?
What was that like with Kenny Payne being the first coach to reach out before taking the Knicks job? Did he tell you guys it was likely he was leaving?
You know what? Kenny did [tell us]. He’s an up-front guy, man. He’s very special. It’s kind of sad that Calipari lost someone of that caliber because he’s just a stand-up guy. Very transparent. Just a great guy. Kenny did tell me he was thinking about accepting a position with the Knicks.
Was Bruiser Flint involved at all? Did Calipari bring him up, if not?
No, he wasn’t on the call. They didn’t go into who would be Bryce’s lead recruiter moving forward, but they did bring [Bruiser Flint] up. I met him before when we were on a visit at Indiana.
Who else has gotten involved since his decommitment?
Providence, they offered [Tuesday], I believe. Notre Dame, they offered. He’s been talking with Vanderbilt, they pulled his transcripts and are supposed to call back [Wednesday] night. They could possibly offer. We’ve been talking with Marquette, I talked with Arizona, I talked with Shaka Smart at Texas, talked with Virginia. My phone, it hasn’t stopped ringing. I’m serious. It’s a great problem to have.
Now, with Bryce, it’s about comfort level. Who he feels comfortable with, he’s going to be checking out the rosters, doing virtual tours on Zoom. This was actually my first time doing a Zoom call, and I’ve got to admit, it’s pretty neat, man. It’s neat, it really is. To be in the comfort of your home and get a feel for the staff and to actually see them, talk with them. It’s pretty neat. I’ll tell you one thing, it saves you some money, I’ll tell you that. You don’t have to always drive down that highway [to different schools].
Has Bryce indicated if it’s going to be a quick recruiting process or if he’s going to be patient with it?
Me personally, I think Bryce will probably take it all in and make a decision in about a month or a month and a half.
How did the Louisville situation unfold? How disappointed were you guys to make that decision to decommit?
They are great people, man. That’s why we committed. It was just an unfortunate situation. Coach [Chris] Mack, Coach [Luke] Murray, the whole coaching staff, they’re stand-up guys. I have nothing bad to say about them or the program. Everything about them was good. Like I told Bryce, you have to follow your heart. It’s like if your son was in that situation, you just want what’s best for him. You can only do this one time. You want to get it right. Take nothing away from Louisville or their coaching staff, every time we went there, it was first class.
There are rumblings behind the scenes that Bryce’s dream school is Duke. Can you confirm that?
You know, I must admit, Bryce has always loved Duke. He has. He’s got Louisville comforters and stuff like that, but he’s still got Duke up there, too. It’s always been a dream school for him.
It’s a tough [recruitment], it really is. I’m just glad to be in his life and to help him with some of the tougher questions that may come up. He has me, and he has his MoKan [Elite] staff. If we’re struggling with something, we never hesitate to pick up the phone and reach out to the coaching staff there. Matt Suther, which is the owner of that program
Bryce’s coach told me he was the best player at the MoKan Elite minicamp this summer, which included guys like Kennedy Chandler. Do you agree with that?
I read an article that said he was really impressive there. He had a great camp. We were looking forward to him and [five-star prospects] Kennedy Chandler and Kendall Brown, those guys getting on the court together. He’s coming around, man. He hit a growth spurt, he’s close to 6-foot-8 now. They measured him down at minicamp and he came in at 6-7 and a half.
I tell him to just throw the rankings out the window. Just keep working. It’s all about work ethic and what you put in, and that’s what you’ll get out of that. That’s the way it is, I tell him to not look at rankings. There are kids he went up against that are ranked No. 6 and No. 7 in the country and he put up 40 on them. It doesn’t mean anything. Just keep getting better, keep working, and everything will pan out.