Regarded by many analysts as the best athlete in the Class of 2008 behind Demar DeRozan, Hopson has played everything from point guard to power forward for University Heights Academy. That makes him a superb match for Pearl's multi-role system that likes to create mismatches in terms of size and quickness.
And with the Vols losing three senior guards this year there is an immediate need for a versatile backcourt performer with a diverse skill set and superior athleticism. They will also need to replace a plethora of points produced by Chris Lofton and JaJuan Smith. Enter Hopson who is a scoring machine.
He demonstrated that ability against St. Henry in the All "A" Classic played at Eastern Kentucky this season when he scored 28 points on 11-of-14 shooting with 12 boards. Scout.com basketball analyst Evan Daniels describes the effort as follows:
"Hopson exploded out of the gate and hit his first five shots, including a three-pointer. Known as a big-time athlete, Hopson used his athleticism to snag rebounds, block shots and finish in the lane. He attacked the basket and often times pulled up for a 12-foot jumpers or dropped in a sweet floater."
At the Commodore Classic in University Heights Academy's second game of the season, he put up 32 points on a 16-of-32 shooting night against Tates Creek High School.
In an earlier contest against Adair County Hopson displayed his entire palette of tools, posting 18 points, 12 rebounds, 6 steals and five assists. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to see him in a veteran Tennessee rotation with Ramar Smith, Tyler Smith, Wayne Chism, Duke Crews, J.P. Prince, Brian Williams and Josh Tabb.
Rated the nation's No. 3 small forward and No. 11 overall by Scout.com this five-star prospect is the real prize of the spring signing period, and he would be the highest ranked prospect and first McDonald's All-American Pearl has signed at Tennessee. However for now Hopson is focused on his senior season and plans to postpone the recruiting process until its conclusion.
"After the season I'm going to take some looks at a few different colleges," Hopson told Daniels. "I'm going to keep Mississippi State in the mix, but after the season I'm going to make a decision."
His patient approach might actually improve the Vols' chances since they are the highest ranked of the teams he's considering and play a style that suits his talents to a T.
"Mississippi State is still involved and I think he'll look at a few other people," UHA coach Randy McCoy told Daniels. "We've had calls from all of the major schools, but I think he has a mindset and he's looking to go to a place where he knows he's going to get better."
If getting better is his criteria, who can make a more convincing case than Bruce Pearl?