Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Hopkins is a West Coast guy who takes over in the Pac-12 after being on the Syracuse staff since 1996 and also working with USA Basketball under Boeheim and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.
“[He brings] energy, [he’s a] hard-worker, tireless worker,” Autry said of Hopkins. “He’s a great basketball mind. He’s been able to spend a lot of time with some of the great college coaches, Coach Boeheim, of course. And then spending time with USA, Coach K and some of those other coaches at the highest level.
“Great basketball mind, teacher, mentor. That’s the most important thing, is being able to motivate and make people better. And he’s a winner.”
As for Syracuse, the staff retains Autry and Gerry McNamara so recruiting should have continuity going forward.
“I think it still stays the same,” he said. “Our leader hasn’t changed and you just stay after it. I think it’s really cleared up some things as far as on the recruiting front and now we can move forward. Everything is in place and now we just keep moving forward like we’ve been doing.”
All three Syracuse recruits for 2017 — point guard Howard Washington, forward Oshae Brissett and big man Bourama Sidibe — have said they intend on still going to Syracuse.
As I wrote in this New York Times piece earlier in the season, Hopkins had been active in recruiting guys like Sidibe out of St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, N.J.
Autry led the effort to land the Canadians Brissett and Washington, the latter of whom just recently committed.
Moving forward after a season in which the Orange missed the NCAA Tournament, the Syracuse roster will undergo some changes for next season. Guards John Gillon and Andrew White and bigs Tyler Roberson and Dajuan Coleman all graduate, while sophomore forward Tyler Lydon will declare for the NBA Draft. He is projected at No. 23 by DraftExpress.com.
The Orange return freshmen Tyus Battle and Taurean Thompson and sophomores Paschal Chukwu and Frank Howard. Matthew Moyer, a 6-8 freshman forward, becomes available after a redshirt season.
They remain in the mix for Putnam Science Academy (CT) guard Eric Ayala, who still is weighing whether to reclass to 2017.
“I think there’s a couple unknowns as far as how the roster will finish up,” Autry said. “I think we’ll be better, definitely on the defensive end. We’ll get back to being more traditional, bigger guards, tall guards. Our forwards will be back to the traditional size of the 6-8s and the 6-9s. I know defensively we’ll be better. We’ll see offensively how the team shapes up. But we’ll be right there.
“We’re always competitive and I think we’ll have a chance to be really good in our league.”
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.