The college basketball season has its share of challenges for every program. Managing the team, navigating the schedule, studying film, developing the talent and many, many other factors. But the lifeblood of every program is recruiting, which never stops in the modern 24/7 news cycle society.
”I’ve evolved,” Hopkins said. “When I first started, I did probably a little bit more recruiting. Then I had a philosophy that the best recruits that you have are the ones that you have on your team. We recruit hard during the summer. We get kids on unofficial visits, we get them up here.
”But to say we use 120-days, we don’t. I’ve been out only a couple of times. I like to go on days off when we’re rolling. When we’re struggling or not playing well, I don’t like to leave the guys. In reality, those are your best recruiters when they have success.”
When they do get prospects on campus, it presents yet another challenge. There is a balancing act between game prep, game focus and spending time with the player and his family.
”It’s hard because it’s a big piece of our job,” Hopkins said. “That customer service per se is pivotal. Kids don’t come up a lot so when they come in that afternoon or that night for the game, you want them to meet everybody.
”You want to have as many conversations, you want to have as many interactive type of moments as you can just so you can get a good feel for each other. But it’s hard. It’s not easy. A lot of programs will use 130-days and they won’t be at practices. We use that to our advantage.”
While Hopkins does spend most of his time during a season focused on the task at hand, he and the other Syracuse coaches do have an opportunity to his the recruiting trail from time to time. They stress an appropriate balancing act there, as they do with recruiting in general.
”It depends on who you’re recruiting,” Hopkins said. “Sometimes national prep tournaments are good because you get to see so many guys in one day. When we have committed guys early, you always go down and see them. That’s easy. Sometimes it all depends on weather and airport.
”I’d like to go to New Jersey and see a practice and get back that night. Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. The game might be at 7, but the late flights are at 9:50 so you have to get up the next morning and go. When your kids have success, that’s when recruiting is the best.