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October 12, 2017

Mike Hopkins

San Francisco, California

MIKE HOPKINS: Hello, everybody. Mike Hopkins, University of Washington. Two of our players, David Crisp and Matisse Thybulle. Really excited to be here. First Pac-12 Conference meetings, and I'm officially exhausted. How are you doing?

The kids, when I got the job, we retained all but one player from last year's roster. We returned five juniors, two sophomores, and we have a recruiting class that we're very high on. We've got a nice infusion of youth and nice infusion of veteran players. Really looking forward to this season.

Q. The F.B.I. investigation is obviously a hot topic. What was your immediate reaction when you saw it come down?
MIKE HOPKINS: It was obviously shocking. I had known a couple of these guys. So to see that go down was shocking, but it wasn't -- it was shocking to see it go down. But it's also a wake-up call. You know, there needs to be reform. The Pac-12 has taken a leadership role in getting the committee together and getting some people to try to make it a better game.

You know, I'm not a judge or a jury. There are no shortcuts, and you've got to be able to go out there and get kids that fit what you do, fit the culture. And I think we've done a good job with the University of Washington.

Q. When you say reform needs to happen, is there anything that comes to mind immediately that you think would be an easy thing to implement?
MIKE HOPKINS: You know what? I haven't studied it enough to really speak about it, other than being in it. You know, they talk about -- I've heard people talk about the one-and-dones, and that's the reason, but even when they had the one-and-dones there were rumors of that stuff happening.

So I don't think it's -- I think it's the pressures of coaches winning and trying to get the best talent. Some people do it one way and some people do it another way. But reform needs to happen.

Q. How much of it is on the head coaches to make sure their assistants (indiscernible)?
MIKE HOPKINS: I think it's really hard, but those are the rules. So you have to be very careful of who you're hiring, and making sure that you're communicating, educating all the time.

We love what we do. We're educators trying to help these kids on and off the court, and that needs to be your focus. You know, everybody has a philosophy, but that's ours.

Q. You were an assistant up until six months ago?

Q. You were a heavy recruiter, obviously, since you've been in it. Does this come down to you as shocking?
MIKE HOPKINS: You know, there are so many different rumors. You'll hear so many reasons, I didn't get that kid because this school did this. Nobody really knows. No one has physical evidence. I've been in wars where it was the easy way out to say that.

But a lot of programs speak for themselves and the people behind it. For the most part, it's the head coach's responsibility to monitor everything. And as hard it is, it's impossible, but it goes back to now you really have to educate, talk to your staff. But, you know, it was shocking, to be honest with you.

Q. You and Washington State Coach Kent's program are kind of in the same predicament, finding your landscape in recruiting.

Q. How do you look at the current landscape in the Northwest with you and also Coach Altman?
MIKE HOPKINS: I think it's a great landscape. I think it's one of the things that makes the job great. Seattle's got one of the best recruiting grounds of talent on the West Coast, right behind L.A., I would say.

But at the end of the day, value is one of the reasons why I took the job at the University of Washington. I believed in the university, Jen Cohen, and the tradition that it had and the potential that it had.

Same thing in recruiting. Relationships, relationships, relationships. Kids want to be pros, and kids want to develop and have an opportunity to do special things. Values are a lot, I can tell you that.

Q. You and Coach Kent have had a couple players that you're both going after. What's that like, the rivalry factor?
MIKE HOPKINS: Listen, the one thing I do know, and I've been doing this a long time, and I told the story at my press conference, we were recruiting a kid when I was at Syracuse, Julius Hodge. He was a Top 5 player out of New York City. It was the biggest like country club talk, booster talk, it's going to save the program. And we were recruiting him hard. We had one scholarship left.

And there was a little skinny kid that was rated 110th in the country named Hakim Warrick from Philadelphia, and he had La Salle, us, and Providence were his three schools. He was begging us. And we had to tell him we had to wait two weeks before Julius makes his decision. His mother would call me once every three days and say, Coach, I've been praying. I want him to go to Syracuse. I want him to go. We ended up losing Julius Hodge. It was D-day. It was like the worst day in history. We got this kid named Hakim Warrick. Next thing you know, you've got a two-time All-American national champion.

So I don't think there is a science in terms of recruiting. You get kids that want to be a part of what you do. They fit the system. That's what works. Working, making sure those kids have success and development.

We got more out of Hakim. He was skinny. He developed. You can talk about your developmental system. He was a four-year guy that won more games than probably anybody in his class coming out of high school.

So, you know, there's guys like that out there. You look at Klay Thompson, Paul George, a lot of guys. The NBA is full of them. There's a lot of talent. We have to go out and evaluate and find guys that fit and believe in what we're teaching, and let's go to work.

Q. You come from Syracuse, obviously under Jim. Another two-three zone.

Q. Are you going to bring it to Washington?
MIKE HOPKINS: Oh, yes. Are you kidding me? It's like a great snow cone. It's like a great weapon. People have this perception, I mean, it's true, after Wesley Johnson's senior season or his junior season, we had not played one possession of man-to-man. The year we won it, and all the years before, it was probably 50-50. The year we won the National Championship, we were behind in 14 games in the second half. So there were multiple games we played a lot of man, we pressed.

But it became one of those things where we became really good at it, and it became the DNA of what you did. So I know the benefits of it. The biggest thing I want to do is control tempo. So if you're fast, I can slow you down; if you're slow, I can speed you up. So I do believe in man-to-man and pressure defense as well.

Q. In what ways can shoe companies influence recruiting?
MIKE HOPKINS: I just think, like, listen, and this is just ballpark, but if I'm shoe company X and I'm invested in you, I want you to be good. That's just the way it is. It's why Final Four teams with Nike are Nike Elite. It's why some of us don't get the other gear. That's just the nature of the beast.

But, you know, some get really involved. I was at Syracuse for 21 years. I've known the people at Nike. They've never helped us get a player, ever. Up front and honest, and they're great people. They want to better the game.

Q. Are there kids that were only interested in certain schools based on that?
MIKE HOPKINS: I know people say that, but I don't think so. At the end of the day, it's like Notre Dame, Under Armour, oh, that guy won't wear this or this and that. They're doing a great job. They've got a lot of Nike guys that go to an Under Armour school. I know kids want to go to a great school, get a great education, they have an opportunity to win and make their dreams come true, which most of these kids think it's making the NBA. Some think it's getting a great education and winning and having the opportunity to do that.

But I just think this whole F.B.I. investigation, you know, it's like the bell curve. You have the 10%, you have the 80%, and you've got the 10. I think that's in any business.

I remember the first year I got in the business, I got into coaching and I was talking to a mentor of mine. I said, This is something, you're in this and you've got this recruiting, the stories and all these different things. And he says, Mike, this guy's a top cardiologist. He said, if I told you if I had the Top 100 cardiologists over there, I would say 10% of them are eh, 10% are elite, and 80% are the normal. In any profession.

So I hope it doesn't cast a dark shadow because there are a lot of people doing it the right way, doing it good, and making a big difference with student-athletes.

Q. Your first time as a head coach, it might be tough for you to answer this. But given the sheer number of third parties out there, shoe companies and others that are out there doing their thing, do you think any head coach can feel a hundred percent confident that their players are on the up and up? Even if you don't know or you're not involved in it, do you think any coach can feel confident?
MIKE HOPKINS: It's a hard job, and you have to trust the people that you're working with. You never know what's going on in those regards. But at the end of the day, you have to. That's our job. So it's hard. I don't have an explanation for that. It's hard. But at the end of the day, I've been doing it for 21 years, and I haven't been a head coach.

I've got 21 years of built-in relationships. As an assistant, you build up a lot stronger relationships than the head coaches. Because out of 15 days, 10 of them are the assistant and 5 might be the head coach, that's what it is. That's the reality.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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