After going over the two most likely candidates to be Syracuse’s next head coach last week, it’s time to move to some unlikely possibilities, but possibilities nonetheless. Mike Hopkins was destined to be the head coach at Syracuse University. He was declared the coach-in-waiting, and had the job lined up.
But, he decided to make the jump to Washington after the succession plan fell through, and despite getting multiple players to the NBA (Matisse Thybulle, Isaiah Stewart), that tenure has not worked out. Hopkins left for UW in 2017 and despite being over .500, the last few years in particular have not gone well.
The Huskies have only made one NCAA Tournament in his five years in Seattle, and have not lived up to expectations. It’s unclear whether Hopkins would either want to come back to Syracuse, the place he played four years, and coached for another 20-plus.
The main factor Hopkins brings is his ability to recruit in the Northeast. It’s not hyperbole to say Stewart would have likely played at SU if Hopkins was still on staff. Boeheim’s former lead assistant has recruited the East Coast masterfully.
From bringing in Philadelphia products like Scoop Jardine and Raheem Christmas, Dion Waiters in New Jersey, and Michael Carter-Williams in Massachusetts. Syracuse has struggled to get East Coast players to Central New York in recent years.
Before Benny Williams in 2021, Tyus Battle in 2016 was the last four-star recruit to come from the Northeast to Syracuse. Hopkins can bring back that recruiting pipeline. While SU will never be Duke or North Carolina in the ACC, they can at least become competitive if they start to bring in more talented high school players.
Hopkins’ pedigree as a player is also very strong. He played on teams with legends like Derrick Coleman and Bill Owens. He ascended from bench player to senior captain. He would easily garner respect in the Syracuse locker room and Central New York community.
But, let’s not forget the most important thing. Syracuse was confident enough in him to name him the next head coach back in 2015. While that was seven years ago at this point, it is obvious he was ready then, and can use his failures at Washington to succeed at Syracuse.
Mike Hopkins has the track record and qualifications to be the next head coach at Syracuse. He would bring an energy to the job, is part of the SU family, and can reignite the Orange fan base and bring them back to being a perennial top-25 team.
Hopkins might be under the radar, but he is just as qualified for the job as anyone else. Being back in the Northeast can ease his comfort level, and prove to all the doubters why he was destined to replace Jim Boeheim in the first place.