Washington taps Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins to replace Lorenzo Romar as its men's basketball coach.
The Huskies have found a men’s basketball coach and hired Mike Hopkins, who had been an assistant the past 22 years at Syracuse.
“I’m extremely excited to welcome Mike and his family to Seattle,” UW athletic director Jen Cohen said in a statement released by the school. “His resume and reputation within the basketball community made him stand out to us, but ultimately it was his vision for Washington, his passion for teaching and developing student-athletes and his close alignment with the core values of our institution and department that made it more than clear that he was the right fit for us.”
Hopkins has agreed to a six-year deal with the Huskies, reports ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.
“The University of Washington is such a unique place, with a world-class University, an exciting basketball history and unbelievable fan support,” Hopkins said. “Together, I believe we can build something very special in Seattle, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Hopkins, who began coaching at Syracuse in 1995, was named the head-coach designate on June 25, 2015 and slated to replace longtime coach Jim Boeheim, who turns 73 in November, for the 2017-18 season.
Instead, Hopkins follows Lorenzo Romar who was fired last week after a 15-year tenure with the Huskies. After Hopkins was hired, Syracuse announced it was extending Boeheim’s contract beyond next season. No details were announced.
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Hopkins, who turns 48 in August, was born in San Mateo, Calif. and enrolled in Syracuse in 1989. He led the 1991-92 SU team to the Big East Championship. He was a two-year starter at shooting guard and a team captain as a senior.
Hopkins played professional basketball in the Continental Basketball Association with the Rochester (Minn.) Renegades and in Europe with teams in Turkey and Holland following his graduation from Syracuse.
During his two decades at Syracuse, Hopkins was a part of 16 NCAA Tournament appearances, including the 2003 national championship, four Final Fours, five Elite Eights and 10 Sweet 16s, along with four NIT berths. Hopkins went 4-5 as interim head coach in 2015-16 when Boeheim was suspended.
In 2000, Hopkins was promoted to Syracuse’s lead recruiter and is credited for bringing in Hakim Warrick, Gerry McNamara, Jonny Flynn, Scoop Jardine, Dion Waiters, Michael Carter-Williams and Rakeem Christmas.
“I can’t express enough thanks to Coach Boeheim for so many years of mentorship and guidance,” Hopkins said. “The timing is right for me and my family to make this move.”
It’s not the first time Hopkins considered returning to the West Coast for a job in the Pac-12. Reportedly he was a finalist at Oregon State in 2014 – the Beavers chose Wayne Tinkle – and a candidate for the USC job in 2013 when the Trojans hired Andy Enfield.
“I’ve never been a head coach where Andy had one of the great runs in the history of the NCAA Tournament,” Hopkins told Syracuse.com in 2013. “You hire him and everyone gets it. With me, you’d have to explain why you hired me.
“For some reason, I didn’t get the job. But it’s OK. It was like God playing chess. He knows the moves.”
The Huskies are expected to hold a news conference Wednesday to introduce Hopkins.
During the transition from Romar to Hopkins, Cohen put Will Conroy in charge of the program. It remains to be seen if the former Husky standout, who spent the past two years as an assistant on Romar’s staff, will be retained.
His two-year contract at UW expires in April as does associate head coach Raphael Chillious who joined the team in 2009 (he left for one season at Villanova in 2012-13).
Washington assistant Michael Porter Sr. is contractually on staff for another year. However, reportedly he has a job offer from new Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin, which potentially affects where his son Michael Porter Jr. will play next season.
The 6-foot-9 forward, who is considered the No. 1 2017 recruit by ESPN and potential No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft, signed scholarship papers with Washington last November. Before leading Nathan Hale to a 29-0 record and the Class 3A state title this season, Porter led Tolton Catholic High (Columbia, MO) to the Class 3 MSHSAA state championship.
Porter is close to Romar, who is his godfather, and he removed “Washington commit” from his Twitter bio last week.
Porter’s younger brother Jontay, a junior forward who verbally committed to UW, said via Twitter: “Due to the recent turn of events I’ve decided to reopen my recruitment!” Jontay Porter is the No. 38 nationally among 2018 recruits, according to Scout.com.
The fate of UW’s 2017 incoming class, which is the best in school history, also remains a mystery.
The Huskies signed Garfield High guards Jaylen Nowell and Daejon Davis; point guard Blake Harris from Raleigh, N.C.; and and forward Mamoudou Diarra, a Mali native who plays for St. Louis Christian Academy in Missouri. ESPN ranked the class No. 2 nationally.
Last Wednesday, Harris tweeted “could’ve been something special.”
“We ask that all of our recruits wait to meet with that next coach, that their families get to meet with that next coach, hear his vision, hear his plan, and then we want student athletes that want to be here,” Cohen said last week. “So if after that process is concluded and we have student athletes that don’t want to be Huskies anymore, we’ll release them from their NLIs.”
Washington is slated to return 10 scholarship players from a team that finished 9-22 and was 11th in the Pac-12 at 2-16 this season. The Huskies lost their last 13 games, which is a school record for consecutive defeats.
Freshman Markelle Fultz, UW’s leading scorer, announced he’s entering the NBA draft where he’s projected to be the No. 1 pick. The Huskies also lose senior center Malik Dime.
Three Huskies indicated last week that they were considering transferring upon learning of the coaching change.