Hopkins talks hoops, new offense

CLEMSON - Growing up, DeAndre Hopkins didn't spend much time riding the pine, cheering on his teammates from the bench.

Whether it was football or basketball, he was always among the best players on the team, if not the best. That hardly changed during his freshman season as a wide receiver on the Clemson football team when he had 52 catches for 637 yards and four touchdowns.

Before the end of his freshman season on the gridiron, Hopkins, an all-state basketball player at Daniel High School, was summoned from Death Valley to help out over at Littlejohn. First-year Clemson basketball coach Brad Brownell needed more bodies after two of his players opted to leave the program in the fall.

Hopkins has played only 10 minutes over seven games and has yet to score a point since joining the team in January.

Despite the lack of minutes, he's enjoyed the experience of playing major college basketball.

"It's been great. I love those guys. I met a bunch of new friends. Every single guy on the team is pretty much a new friend to me," Hopkins said on Friday, following the first 2011 spring practice for the Clemson football team. "I want to think coach Brownell for giving me the experience to play basketball at the division one level with the team. I love everything about it. I didn't play that much, but still, it was a great experience for me."

And there's been no hang up in wondering why Brownell isn't playing him more.

"The offense that coach Brownell runs isn't a simple offense. You kind of have to be there through the offseason to really get a lot of playing time," Hopkins said. "Guys aren't just going to come out and play. It's not an athletic type thing where you're good, you're going to play. It's really learning.

"I really didn't have a problem sitting on the bench cheering on my team. I'm a team player."

Dabo Swinney said Hopkins won't miss any of the football team's spring practice sessions while he continues as a member of the basketball team.

"Mainly, I'm focusing on football, right now," Hopkins said. "Basketball and football isn't going to be too complicated."

The thought of a second season of basketball is appealing, but not certain.

Nods of approval are still pending.

"If coach Brownell and coach Swinney decide to let me play, then I'll be out there on the court," Hopkins said.

One thing is for certain, his fitness level is high enough to play in the fast-paced offense implemented by first-year coordinator Chad Morris. Hopkins credited that to his time with the basketball team.

"It was a great pace, everything about it. I wasn't out there with my tongue hanging out, none of the guys were," Hopkins said. "We prepared very well in the offseason in mat drills and me playing basketball. It was a good day for us, I would say. Maybe in the summer when it's hot, it might be a little harder, but today was a good day."

After just one session on the field with Morris, Hopkins is pleased with what he's seen.

"This offense, it gives guys a chance to make plays in open space and one-on-one," he said. "You just take advantage of the weak points of the defense. This offense is created for athletes, pretty much. That's all we have at the wide receiver position and coming in. Guys are going to love it."

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