Louisville basketball’s former top signee could end up playing for a rival.
A pandemic. Murder hornets. Traces of the plague. A hurricane and a tropical storm colliding. Government UFO videos. Louisville basketball’s top commitment decommitting and trending to their top rival. These are all horribly weird things that have happened in the year of 2020, with the last one of those being the most recent and the one I’m currently the most upset about.
Since decommitting from Louisville, four-star forward and top 40 player in the class of 2021 Bryce Hopkins has seen his recruitment pick up quite a bit of steam. His announcement to back off the pledge to the Cards came as a huge shock to most fans, following a nearly nine month commitment dating back to November of 2019.
Hopkins cited the ongoing case with the NCAA as his biggest reason for backing off his commitment, telling Brian Snow of 247 Sports:
“I opened up my recruitment because there were a lot of uncertainties on what is going on with the sanctions. They also keep appealing (the sanctions) which is only making it harder on me.”
The two programs garnering the most attention are Illinois, an in-state school for Hopkins who hails from Chicago, and of course, Louisville’s arch nemesis, Kentucky. After losing out on five star forward Paulo Banchero to Duke, Kentucky quickly put their heads together ultimately settling on Hopkins to be his replacement target.
Within hours of that offer (and even leading up to it) Hopkins began trending to Kentucky, pouring salt on an already open wound. Hopkins father spoke to KSR about the scholarship offer from Coach Cal, saying:
“Just got off the Zoom call with Kentucky. Things went well. Things went really, really well. They went over his style of play, what they like about his game. It’s exciting, very exciting. Cal, they were talking about how excited they’d be to coach Bryce. Things did move rather quickly. I believe with him decommitting [from Louisville], with him available and on the board, they felt they needed to offer him.”
Louisville hasn’t had the best of luck when running into Kentucky on the recruiting scene over the years and this latest news won’t do anything to dispel the notion that when it comes to getting players, Kentucky is big brother.
Rick Pitino felt the impact of Kentucky getting the edge in recruiting more so than Chris Mack has thus far in his Louisville career, but the list is long regardless of players to eventually chose Kentucky over Louisville.
The Hopkins, Kentucky match hurts in the moment, I can’t deny that. As mentioned, Louisville held a commitment from the four-star forward from November of 2019 to August 2020 and during that time, fans saw Hopkins rating soar from in the mid 70s all the up to 33rd national ranking.
Hopkins was a guy we all thought could come in and be a star from right away, and yet when it all felt to good it was. Now it seems that a commitment could be on the horizon at any time.
Louisville seems to still be sitting good with multiple prospects in the class of 2021 while also holding commitments from three promising players, including top junior college star El Ellis.
There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about the recruiting class Mack currently has under his belt for 2021, but losing Hopkins – especially to Kentucky, will be something that stings for quite some time.