Re-Introducing Friar Fans to Bryce Hopkins – Portal Spotlight

Yesterday, we posted a detailed breakdown of South Carolina transfer Devin Carter (https://theprovidencecrier.com/2022/04/12/introducing-friar-fans-to-devin-carter-potential-transfer/#more-4900). Today, we extend our focus to another interested portal candidate: Kentucky wing Bryce Hopkins.

If you follow the Providence recruiting trail, Bryce Hopkins should be a familiar name. PC heavily recruited Hopkins out of Fenwick High School in Chicago before he ultimately committed to Kentucky. We wrote about his recruitment coming out of high school here (https://theprovidencecrier.com/2020/10/13/bryce-hopkins-close-to-deciding-do-the-friars-pull-off-recruiting-upset/). Now a year later he’s looking for a new opportunity and it could reside in Friartown.

If you didn’t read our write ups about him last offseason Hopkins is a 6-6 big body forward that has the ability to attack the basket and work on the offensive glass. Hopkins has also started to develop an outside shot, which only makes him more of a mismatch. Bryce didn’t have a ton of opportunity on Kentucky in his first year but he showed just how good he can be against LSU last year.

One of the things that stood out to me in that LSU game was how excited his teammates were for his baskets. Clearly, it shows he’s liked by his teammates and has put in the work to improve. Don’t believe me? Just ask Coach Cal.

Although he averaged 2.1 ppg and 1.4 rpg in his lone season at Kentucky, he would be an impact get for the Friars. He’s a guy that you could play at the 3 or the 4 position, so he has versatility. Those are the two spots where the Friars need to replenish the roster the most, so there’s certainly more opportunity. Hopefully he’s a guy the Friars can land this time around.

Before people scratch their heads around taking a guy who averaged 2 and 1 in his freshman year, recall that Hopkins was a borderline 5 star recruit. Also, Johnny Juzang. Juzang was pretty much a non-factor at Kentucky his freshman year, averaging 3 points a game. He transferred to UCLA and averaged 16 points the following year. I don’t expect Hopkins to make that leap, but I could see him averaging 10-12 points and 5 rebounds wherever he lands next year.

Hopkins could benefit from another offseason in a strength and conditioning program to transform himself into a bruising undersized 4. He can then make that transition to be more physical off the bounce against the 3’s that are guarding him on the perimeter. Having Henton on stuff is an ideal blueprint for how he can develop as a collegiate athlete.

Analyzing the Competition

I’d imagine this is a two way battle between the Friars and the hometown school of Illinois. Illinois has the appeal of playing close to home, while Providence probably did the best job in this recruitment coming out of high school before Kentucky swooped in. Illinois only has one or two scholarships remaining at the present moment, so it will be interesting to see if they take themselves out of the race by landing somebody else.

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