By DYLAN BUTLER
Marcus Hopper has had a permanent smile on his face for the better part of the last four days.
First, the 6-foot-9 center graduated from Holy Cross June 4, he took an official visit to Siena College June 6 and June 7 he verbally committed to play for the Saints, ending a long and arduous recruiting process.
“I feel pretty good, like I have some weight off my shoulders now that I committed,” Hopper said. “It was kind of stressful because at first I had a lot of schools recruiting me and then stopped getting calls and then I started getting calls from other schools later. I didn’t know what I was going to do next year, but since Siena offered and I committed, it’s definitely less stressful.”
Hopper was weighing offers from Marist, Mississippi Valley State, New Hampshire and Hartford and said that Florida Atlantic recently entered the fray. He took visits to Marist, Mississippi Valley and considered a trip to New Hampshire, but once he visited the Siena campus, Hopper’s mind was made up.
“Everybody up there was like a family,” Hopper said. “Everyone knew each other, everyone was nice to each other. It just felt right to me because it’s the same at Holy Cross and I just felt like another four years of that wouldn’t hurt me at all.”
Hopper, who averaged 10.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game this year, shooting 48.4 percent from the floor and 45.2 percent from three-point range, also said he liked what he heard from Siena Coach Mike Buonaguro about the role he’ll likely play.
“The coach said I could be a pick-and-pop guy because none of the big guys on the team can shoot three-pointers consistently like I can,” Hopper said. “He said I could play on the perimeter, in the post, I can do a little bit of everything. That made me very excited because I want to be more than just a post player. I want to be an all-around player.”
It’s basically an extension of the role he played at Holy Cross, where he helped lead the Knights to the CHSAA Class AA semifinals and earned all-league honors.
“I’m very happy for Marcus and for his mom,” Holy Cross Coach Paul Gilvary said. “This is something he’s worked very hard for. When he came to Holy Cross as a freshman, he was in no way, shape or form a Division I player and he’s really dedicated himself, especially from his junior year on, to really work on his game and his physique and it’s really made a difference in his performance this year.”
Now that Hopper has finally locked down a college, he can’t wait to compete in the MAAC, which is chock full of former CHSAA foes, from former Holy Cross teammate Blaise Ffrench at Saint Peters to Michael Alvarado at Manhattan to Manny Thomas at Marist. And he is especially excited about playing at the Times Union Center.
“For me to play there, that to me is a great thing,” Hopper said. “It’s like an NBA arena, they fit like 14,000 people, it’s always packed. It’s just a great place to play ball.”