NBA Draft 2011: Breaking Down the Biggest Bust of the Draft, Scotty Hopson
You know those annoying fans that are constantly pessimistic about their favorite team?
Yeah, that's me.
The thing that you need to remember is that we sour folks are usually some of the biggest diehard fanatics out there. We love our team so much, we want them to be perfect in every way.
Anything less is not worthy of the uniform they wear.
As a recent graduate of the University of Tennessee, I'm quite used to being down on the men's basketball program all the time.
What with Bruce Pearl's recent transgressions and perennially powerful Kentucky Wildcats (basketball only, mind you), there's always something for me to complain about!
Today, it has to do with one Tennessee's player future in the NBA, specifically the draft. That player is Scotty Hopson.
High School Hype
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Scotty Hopson was only the second McDonald's All-American to play basketball at Tennessee.
Needless to say, the students went nuts. Our new coach Bruce Pearl had landed the second-best shooting guard in the country, according to Rivals.com. The only shooting guard deemed better was current Toronto Raptors starter Demar DeRozan.
Hopson was a tremendous shooter, lightning-fast slasher, and all-around athlete.
Even with the graduation of one of the best shooters I have ever seen, Chris Lofton, I and all Volunteers felt great about the arrival of the next great Tennessee shooter in Scotty Hopson.
We couldn't help but wonder if the fact that both Hopson and Lofton were from Kentucky was coincidence or fate.
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As a freshman, Hopson left a lot to be desired.
In an era when most high school All-Americans are one-and-dones, Scotty was unable to impress draft analysts enough as to compel him to declare for the draft.
He scored a mild 9.2 points per game, shot a mediocre 36% from three-point range, and earned a lowly 63% from the free throw stripe.
But overall, we were kind of happy that Scotty had underperformed and would be sticking around for one more year on Rocky Top.
During Tennessee's best year as a basketball team, Hopson's disappearing acts would've impressed Houdini in the biggest games.
When the now infamous New Year's Day arrests occurred, it was not Hopson but Wayne Chism who would step forward as both a leader and a player.
Scotty experienced a slight increase in points per game to 12.2, while his three-point and free throw percentages both actually worsened.
When it came time to put up or shut up in the Elite 8 game against Michigan State, Hopson was unable to hit a free throw to put the Vols up in the final seconds.
The shooter couldn't shoot.
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It was Hopson's team his junior year.
The fan favorite Chism had graduated, leaving little doubt about who the top dog was. I was one who actually thought that the undoubted leader would thrive in the position.
His points per game rose to a respectable 17. Of course, you need to curb your enthusiasm when you factor in that Chism, J.P. Prince, Bobby Maze, and Tyler Smith had all left, leaving much more than five points to be picked up by Hopson.
His brick hands got the Volunteers into a lot of trouble on the offense, as did the inconsistent shooting, which was on fire if he hit the first shot and ice cold if he happened to miss.
Scotty wasn't a leader when the lead was quite clearly his.
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My old college roommate and I debated furiously about the NBA prospects for Scotty Hopson.
He believes that the spread nature of the pro game will help Scotty a lot, while I think the difference will be negligible. The extra room on the offensive end also means more room to cover one-on-one on the defensive end.
No one can mistake Hopson as even an average defender. Therefore, unless you think he's some offensive specialist, using a pick on him is a waste.
Nice guy? Sure.
Fancy dunker? Yeah, I guess.
NBA contributor? If Wayne Chism and Chris Lofton can't make it, there's absolutely no way.
Tell your team's GM.