He felt he was forced into playing due to his size. When he reached the eighth grade, he grew to six-foot-five at just 13 years old but he was still not as good as some believed he should be.
“When I first started playing basketball I was not good at all,” Hopper explained. “I was made fun of a lot since I was 300 pounds. Almost every time I stepped on the court people laughed at me—even my teammates at the time.”
By the time Hopper got to high school, he had grown another inch and slimmed down to 260 pounds. He still was not very good at basketball. He was probably the worst on his freshman team.
But that summer, his high school coaches Lloyd Desvigne and Paul Gilvary pushed him to be his very best. He grew to six-foot-eight and started on varsity as a sophomore in high school.
“[The criticism] didn’t stop me, it fueled my fire. Thanks to Coach Lloyd, the JV coach at Holy Cross, he changed my life. He was the one who helped me lose weight and become the basketball player that I am today.”
Hopper played varsity basketball for the next three years and by his senior year he got offers from several Division 1 schools. One of these schools included Siena College, where he ultimately decided to play.
“I never thought in a million years that I would go to school for free especially playing basketball,” Hopper explained.
He played at Siena for two years, his freshman and sophomore years, and then redshirted his third year after an injury, keeping him out that season. After that year, he made the decision to transfer to Armstrong State to finish out his college basketball career.
Hopper wants to continue his basketball career in the future, hopefully getting the chance to play professionally overseas. If that does not work out, he will hope to get a job in the journalism field, using his experiences in collegiate basketball to help him in that area.
The Pirates’ basketball season is just around the corner and Hopper hopes to be a big part of the team this year. His leadership both on and off the court will help lead his team to the success.