Bryce Hopkins’ recruitment put the Top 40 power forward squarely in-between tow of the most passionate fanbases in all of college basketball. Like in almost every case with this rivalry, Kentucky ultimately had the upper hand over Louisville.
The 6-foot-7, 225-pound power forward from the Chicago suburb of Oak Park initially committed to the Cards in November of 2019. Almost one year later to the date, Hopkins announced his commitment to the University of Kentucky. At a summer basketball camp just outside of Louisville at South Oldham High School, he explained why he chose the Wildcats.
“I felt like this was the best situation for me,” Hopkins said. “If I come here and do what I have to do, I know I can get to the next level with all the Coach Cal has to offer. It wasn’t nothing personal with them (UofL), I just wanted to do what was best for me, for my dreams to get to the NBA.”
Hopkins is not the first player to choose UK over UofL. Marquis Teague, Trey Lyles and Derek Willis started the trend most recently followed by Devin Askew.
Before flipping from one Kentucky school to the other, Hopkins wanted to see the campus in Lexington. No big deal under normal circumstances, there was a COVID-19 hurdle to overcome last fall. Unable to visit in an official capacity, his parents accompanied him for a tour of the Lexington campus where he quickly felt the love from the BBN.
“You can see all of the people care. They were very welcoming, asked if I was being recruited for basketball and stuff like that. They just showed their love for the basketball team,” said Hopkins.
Louisville was not the only school that was unhappy with Hopkins’ decision. Chin Coleman and Orlando Antigua recruited Hopkins at Illinois.
“They were pretty mad when I didn’t go there because that’s my home state. They wanted me to go there really bad. They thought it would be a good fit for me,” Hopkins said. “It turned out great in the end when they came over here. It’s a win-win.”
By securing another win over Louisville, Kentucky added a player that’s been compared to P.J. Washington. A big body that can face up on the wing and is not afraid to bang in the post, Hopkins is bringing toughness to Lexington.
“Growing up, nothing was ever handed to me. My Dad instilled in me to be tough and take what you want. Coach Cal didn’t guarantee me anything when I came here. He just said I need to take what I needed and that’s what I came here to do.”