On October 23, 2006, Scotty Hopson, a 6’5″, 185 pound SG/SF from the University Heights Academy in Hopkinsville, Kentucky committed to play basketball for the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Of course, the commitment was “oral” and “non-binding” but great news nonetheless! Scotty would join 4-star PF Romero Osby and 3-star PG Dee Bost to form a great 2008 MSU Bulldog basketball recruiting class. However, earlier this week, on April Fools Day, Scotty Hopson opted to commit to Bruce Pearl and the University of Tennessee Volunteers instead. Bruce Pearl makes it his job to dole out hi-fives.
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I present the most comprehensive time-line of the Scotty Hopson recruitment process:
August 2006 – Before beginning his junior season, Scotty Hopson has offers from Ole Miss, Clemson and Mississippi State on the table. Several other schools have shown interest including: Arkansas, Memphis, Ohio State, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia Tech, Xavier, Michigan State, Indiana, Minnesota, and Cincinnati.
9.9.06 – After a visit to UT, Scotty says the Volunteers are recruiting him pretty hard, rounding out the top 5 (in no order) is Ohio State, Memphis, Louisville and Mississippi State.
10.13.06 – Scotty Hopson visits Kentucky for Midnight Madness, UK makes an offer.
10.23.06 – Scotty Hopson commits to the Mississippi State. The Bulldogs have been with him the longest, and that evidently means something.
7.5.07 – Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis lists Hopson as “One to Know” saying that he really improved his status at the USA Basketball Festival.
7.6.07 – Mississippi State Basketball bloggers start coming up with nicknames for Hopson.
7.9.07 – Scotty refers to his commitment to Mississippi State as “pretty solid” according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. Kentucky has been calling.
7.10.07 – Scotty Hop gets some props in Slam Magazine for impressive play at the LeBron James Skills Academy. Hopson also comes in at #19 on the Slam Fresh 50 – listing the top H.S. players from the class of ’08.
7.14.07 – Hopson tells Dawgbites.com: “Nothing has changed. I am looking forward to playing for Mississippi State.”
7.17.07 – When asked if Hopson would back out of his commitment to Miss. State, Jody Demling of the Louisville Courier Journal said this: “I honestly don’t believe he will. I think Scotty will sign in the fall with Mississippi State. I know several of his quotes have sounded iffy but after spending some time with him last week, I fully expect him to be playing in Starkville.”
7.24.07 – Quote collected by Arliss from UK message board: “He was booed at his own school, his mother has been approached about his poor decision making, and generally he has had to explain himself to everyone.”
8.2.07 – Rob Harrington of USA Today Ranks Hopson #18 in the country.
8.7.07 – Scotty Hopson is bumped up to the #9 H.S. prospect in the country by Rivals.com.
8.12.07 – Hopson to Kentucky rumors increase….prep school at Oak Hill Academy is also a possibility.
8.14.07 – Hopson tells the Lexington Herald-Leader that he’s down with Mississippi State because, as he puts it, “I want to make it all the way to the pros. Mississippi State tells me they’re going to prepare me for that.”
8.15.07 – Van Coleman’s of CSTV ranks Hopson #13.
8.31.07 – Hopson remains #19 on Slam Fresh 50.
9.15.07 – Scotty Hopson wins the “most explosive leaper” contest on Rivals.com.
10.6.07 – Scotty Hopson visits Mississippi State.
10.27.07 – Scotty still intends on going to Mississippi State, but Kentucky is evidently making a strong push.
11.13.07 (early) – Hopson confirms with two different reporters that he will sign with the Bulldogs on the early period signing day, Friday November 16th.
11.13.07 (late) – Scotty changes his mind like a pregnant woman and tells two sources that he won’t sign early with anyone.
11.14.07 – Scotty is bumped up to #17 in the Slam rankings.
11.14.07 – Hopson blames family issues for being wishy-washy on the subject, but doesn’t rule out signing early.
11.15.07 – Louisville’s Rick Pitino says this: “There’s a young man that alledgedly decommited to a school yesterday and until I hear it from his mouth I won’t do anything. But when someone decommits and they are open for recruiting and he makes it public, then he is like any other recruit. But if someone is committed, we stay away from them.”
11.15.07 – Momma Hopson informs the media that Scotty will indeed sign on Friday despite what her son says. Evidently, the family decision was made unbeknownst to Lil’ Scotty.
11.16.07 – Momma Hopson turns a 180 and decides herself that her son will not sign early. Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia Tech and Louisville start licking their chops.
11.17.07 – Bewildered Mississippi State fans keep hope alive for the spring signing period.
11.18.07 – Hopson plays a “passive” game at the Fast Lane Tip-Off Classic (17 points, seven rebounds, 4 blocks, an assist and 5 turnovers) and refuses to talk about college afterwards.
11.19.07 – Scotty Hopson is still “focused” on Mississippi State despite ever increasing pushing from Kentucky.
11.27.07 – Hopson drops 33 points, 10 boards, and 5 blocks in his regular season opener. Bruce Pearl was supposed to be at the game, but had to cancel because of the weather. Hopson had this to say about his recruitment: “I let my mom take care a lot of it because it does take a toll on me. I am just going to lay back and focus on basketball.” Uh.Oh.
11.30.07 – After dropping 32 points in a win, the Lexington Herald-Ledger reports from Hopson: “I’m still committed to Mississippi State,” Hopson said. “It’s firm. It’s firm enough.” Hopson’s Coach, Randy McCoy: “I still think there’s a chance he’ll go to Mississippi State, I think there’s a big chance he’ll go to Mississippi State.” Hopson’s mother, Jeannette Hopson: “We like Mississippi State. There’s nothing wrong with Mississippi State. We just want to make sure.” Billy Gillispie and assistants from Cincinnati and Louisville were in attendance.
12.26.07 – “After the game, Hopson tried to sneak away from a horde of media in the smaller gymnasium at Fairdale but was questioned by about 10 members of the media.”
1.11.08 – A video of Scotty Hopson’s skills – Louisville Courier-Journal. Kansas has also evidently entered into the Scotty Hopson sweepstakes, slightly.
1.16.08 – Scotty Hopson is bumped to #11 in the Slam Fresh 50.
1.18.08 – “Tennessee, Louisville and Cincinnati are still actively recruiting Hopson and Texas has also gotten involved. Rick Barnes coached former University Heights star Greg Buckner and is trying to use that connection to get into the Hopson sweepstakes. Mississippi State still can’t be totally discounted, but it’s unlikely he’ll end up in Starkville.” [Jody Demling]
1.31.08 – Jody Demling, Louisville Courier-Journal: “As best as I can tell, Tennessee, Louisville and Cincinnati are three schools that appear to be near the front of the pack. According to multiple sources around the situation, Hopson still hasn’t heard from the University of Kentucky in a while.”
2.1.08 – Mississippi State, Tennessee, Louisville and Cincinnati are at the top of Scotty’s list. Kentucky is suspiciously absent. Cincinnati Inquirer.
2.1.08 – “Scotty Hop” as he has dubbed himself tells the Clarion-Ledger’s Kyle Veazey that Mississippi State is #1 while getting down to some music on the way to a game. Later that night, Scotty Hop scores 28 points and snags 8 rebounds in another win. After the game, he informs the world that he’s on the “market.”
2.2.08 – Mississippi State plays Tennessee in Starkville. UT led by 17 with just under 8 minutes left in the game. The Bulldogs made a furious comeback, but fell short in the end 76-71. Dig yourself a hole, and……
2.4.08 – Billy Gillispie, the head coach of Kentucky, watches Scotty Hop score 20.
2.11.08 – Jody Demling of the Louisville Courier-Journal: “All I’m saying is that Scotty Hopson has been open for some time. In fact, I haven’t heard a beep about or even heard about any Mississippi State sightings at any of his games.”
2.14.08 – Rumors are flying — Hopson’s mother denies that Billy Gillispie has come calling, but she has spoken with a UK assistant. From her comments to the Louisville Courier-Journal, it doesn’t seem like Gillispie is too interested in Hopson: “The bottom line is on Monday night an assistant called me and said Gillispie was going to call me on Tuesday, but there was no call,” the mother said. “Another coach called (Tuesday) afternoon and said he would call before the game and there was no call. Then they called and said he was going to show up at school on Wednesday on way back from the game. But I guess after they got beat so bad, (by Vanderbilt) he wanted to get back home. I have seen him three times (this season) and not one time has he come up and said anything. We haven’t had any contact with him.”
2.19.08 – Hopson is named to the McDonald’s All-American team.
2.21.08 – Scotty Hopson is named to the Jordan Brand Classic All-Star game, to be played at Madison Square Garden in NYC on April 19th.
2.22.08 – Hopson tears up the court in his final home game, scoring 37 points in front of the entire Mississippi State coaching staff, UK’s Billy Gillispie and assistants from Tennessee and Cincinnati.
2.26.08 – Scotty Hopson opens post-season play with 35 points in a win, 31 coming in the 2nd half.
3.4.08 – Hopson is one of 10 players named to the USA Basketball Junior National team.
3.6.08 – Scotty Hop sinks 22 points, 8 boards and 5 blocks in front of a Billy Gillispie and Bruce Pearl, an assistant from Texas is also in attendance.
3.11.08 – Rick Stansbury and Bruce Pearl watch Hopson score 31 points and nab 10 rebounds in a University Heights win over Henderson County. Hopson’s team, University Heights, moves into the Kentucky Second Region final.
3.12.08 – Mississippi State coaches travel to Madisonville, Kentucky to watch Scotty play live.
3.14.08 – Rumors say that Kentucky and Cincinnati are not in Scotty Hopson’s picture. [Courier-Journal]
3.17.08 – “The Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches released the Player of the Year winners for the 16 regions across the state on Monday. The state’s first McDonald’s All-American to finish his career in Kentucky since 1993 (when Male’s Jason Osborne won) is not on the list. Yes, University Heights All-American Scotty Hopson wasn’t picked as the Second Region’s top senior.” [Jody Demling – Louisville Courier-Journal]
3.19.08 – Scotty Hopson’s team loses in the Sweet 16 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, the last high school game of his career.
3.24.08 – Scotty Hop finishes 3rd in the Powerade JamFest Slam Dunk contest at the McDonald’s All-American Game in Milwaukee.
3.26.08 – Scotty Hopson tells Kyle Veazey that he will take more visits, but is still high on Mississippi State.
3.26.08 – Hopson scores 10 points in the McDonald’s All-American game, impressing with 8 in the first half. The leaders for Hopson seem to be Miss. State and Tennessee with Kentucky and Texas trailing closely and Louisville, possibly Georgia in the mix. (Courier-Journal)
3.28.08 – Slam’s Report on Hopson in the McDonald’s Game: “Another monster athlete, who happens to be the best player in the nation who hasn’t chosen what school he’ll attend next year, Hopson excels in these types of environments. He didn’t disappoint Wednesday, using his smooth moves to get to the rack with ease.”
4.1.08 – April Fools? Shortly after a visit to Knoxville, Scotty makes that “non-binding oral” commitment to the University of Tennessee before UK’s Billy Gillispie can visit him. “My momma gave me her consent (to commit),” said Hopson. “I really wasn’t sure before I went on the visit,” Hopson said. “But I had always had a good feeling about Tennessee.”
“I felt there were two (frontrunners) in Mississippi State and Tennessee,” said Hopson’s high school coach, Randy McCoy. “But it came down to distance and it came down to him wanting to play right now.” [Louisville Courier Journal]
4.1.08 – Kyle Veazey speaks with Scotty Hop: “Why not Tennessee? There’s a big tradition here, plus I know coming in here at the program I’ve got a good chance of coming in at the starting two-guard because Chris Lofton’s leaving.” — “It just seemed like I could have more success here,” said Hopson, who wants to be a one-and-done. “We’re going to have the top RPI next year in schedule play so I know we’re going to have a lot of ESPN games, CBS games, things like that.” — “I don’t just commit to a school without signing,” he said. “I’m going to sign.”
4.2.08 – Scotty Hopson was named to the Parade All-American 2nd team.
4.4.08 – To be continued…..