With the world of in-person recruiting shut down for the foreseeable future, both coaches and prospects have gotten creative in terms of contact and visits. On one end, coaches are hosting virtual visits and maintaining face-to-face contact through video calls. On the other, recruits are taking trips on their own dime for self-guided tours of campus to get a feel for what life would be like at that school.
For 2021 four-star forward Bryce Hopkins, he got his first in-person campus experience this summer by taking a trip to Lexington this past weekend as we hit the home stretch of his recruitment.
After spending Saturday and Sunday on campus, the Kentucky target’s father, Clyde Hopkins, broke things down and updated his son’s recruitment with KSR.
What did the Hopkins family think about the trip?
“You know what? It was very impressive. Very nice campus. Very nice,” Hopkins told KSR. “It was self-guided, we just wanted Bryce to get a feel for campus, see where the players live, the facilities, Rupp Arena, stuff like that. Now, we actually have a taste of where everything is located. We just hung out down in Lexington, it was very nice. Good trip.”
Due to the NCAA’s shutdown of in-person recruiting at this time, Hopkins and his family were on their own regarding what they saw and where they went. The Kentucky basketball staff could have no contact or allow access to any of the facilities.
“We saw the bookstore,” Hopkins said. “He wants to major in business, so we stopped by the college of business, he was able to see that. We were able to get into the business building, there was someone there, a graduate student let us in and we walked around. But the practice facilities and stuff like that, we weren’t able to get into that. It was all locked down.”
Though they couldn’t enter the basketball facilities or living quarters, Hopkins and his family were able to see the layout of the Wildcat Coal Lodge and the Joe Craft Center from the outside. Should the coronavirus still be around next year or other problems present themselves in the future, Hopkins was pleased to see how close things were and how isolated the team is from the rest of the student body.
When UK head coach John Calipari says Kentucky has a true “bubble” on its hands, Hopkins believes him after seeing the setup with his own eyes.
“Absolutely. The [Wildcat Coal] Lodge where the players stay, it’s literally 20 steps away [from the practice facility]. 20 steps,” Hopkins told KSR. “You’re not around any other students or anything, it’s just the basketball team, so they can actually quarantine there. It’s just the team. Calipari and the staff, if they test them on a regular basis, they know with just the team around, they’re safe.”
Outside of the visit, Hopkins says Kentucky is maintaining consistent contact, with Calipari taking things over.
“We did a Zoom prior to our trip to Lexington, and then we talked to Joel Justus when we departed. We sent text messages back and forth. We just wanted to keep things on the up and up. They weren’t allowed to be in contact with us when we were there, but we still had a really good time.
“They were all on the Zoom call, including Jai Lucas and Bruiser Flint. [Lucas] was kind of quiet, they just wanted to introduce us to him for the first time. He didn’t say much at all on this call. They introduced us to Bruiser, as well. Neither of them talked much, Coach Cal did most of the talking.”
When asked if Kentucky is pushing hard for a commitment, Hopkins confirmed that Calipari has made it clear that he is wanted in Lexington.
“They’re letting us do our own thing, but Coach Cal did state that he really wants to coach Bryce and he would really love to have him at Kentucky,” he said.
As far as his recruitment is concerned, the four-star prospect’s father tells KSR that things are going to move rather quickly from here.
“I believe we’ll get a list cut this week and then decide at the end of September or early October. Sometime in the next few weeks. First, he’s going to cut his list down to four. I think it’s going to get wrapped up fairly quickly. Bryce wanted to see Texas, but it’s just too far. That’s another place he wanted to see.”
Hopkins is considered the No. 30 overall prospect and No. 7 power forward in the 247Sports Composite rankings.