The Washington Huskies needed just four days to find their new basketball head coach. The Huskies will hire Syracuse assistant coach Mike Hopkins in hopes of putting the disappointing Lorenzo Romar era in its rear view.
Pulling Hopkins from the ACC will give Washington a respected and revered assistant at the helm. The former Orange guard had been with the program as a coach since 1996 and earned the title of Head Coach-Designate last summer. He’d served as the team’s interim head coach during Jim Boeheim’s NCAA-mandated suspension last season and has long been considered Syracuse’s top pick to replace Boeheim once the surefire Hall of Famer retires.
Instead, he’ll take over a Washington program that’s been high on talent and low on wins in recent years. Romar’s tenure with the Huskies was dotted with elite recruits and NBA talent like Markelle Fultz, Marquese Chriss, Terrence Ross, and Tony Wroten. The most those players were able to show for their brief collegiate careers was a trip to the NIT — or in Fultz’s case, some extra vacation time in March.
Hopkins has a track record of recruiting useful players like Jason Hart and Gerry McNamara in upstate New York, but that’s a far cry from the five-star prospects Romar lured to the Emerald City.
His first job will be to try to keep one of the nation’s top prospects in the fold. Michael Porter, a five-star recruit from Seattle and Romar’s Godson, gave UW his bond back in November. With the abrupt change of management taking place last week, he reversed course and named Missouri his new top choice — though he hasn’t gone as far as to offer a verbal commitment to the program.
Replacing Romar’s impact on the recruiting trail will be tough. Doing it on the court won’t be as challenging. Washington bottomed out at 9-22 in 2016-17, forcing the veteran coach’s ouster. Hopkins will have to work out a potential player exodus now that his well-liked predecessor is gone. But he’ll have the chance to work with a clean slate at a Power 5 program that’s a proven destination for top talent.