‘Brock and Salk’ impressed by new UW basketball coach Mike Hopkins’ handling of Michael Porter Jr drama

Mar 24, 2017, 6:00 AM | Updated: 12:44 pm
Mike Hopkins...
New UW coach Mike Hopkins said that he hadn't yet spoken with top recruit Michael Porter Jr. (AP)

The Huskies appear to be losing the most sought-after recruit in the their men’s basketball program’s history. What’s surprising is the way the new head coach Mike Hopkins responded: By doing nothing.

Color 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock Huard and Mike Salk impressed with that gutsy move.

“I think Hopkins is playing this the right way,” Salk said Thursday.

Washington introduced Hopkins on Wednesday as its new head coach, and during the press conference he said he had yet to reach out to recruit Michael Porter Jr. or his family because he wanted to do it in person. At essentially the same time, Porter Jr. met with reporters and said he wanted to be released from his National Letter of Intent to UW.

Porter Jr. is no average recruit, and neither were the circumstances surrounding his commitment to UW when former coach Lorenzo Romar was still at the helm, as 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny O’Neil explained. Porter is the most high-profile member of an historic recruiting class that is expected to de-commit as a result of Romar’s firing last week.

Salk said Hopkins entered the fray with “absolutely the right attitude,” pointing specifically to Hopkins’ response Wednesday regarding his stance on recruiting: “You know there’s really no science in recruiting,” Hopkins said at the press conference. “You’ve got to get the right fit. The values have to align.”

“You’re not about to be held hostage by any kid,” Salk said. “And if it becomes a power deal, it’s, ‘Hey, look, I’m the one in charge,’ and that’s the way it’s got to be if you’re the head coach of a men’s basketball program. You’ve got to recruit for your identity, the type of kid and the type of player that is exactly what you’re looking for. And if Porter is going to fit into that, great. That sounds even better.”

Huard agreed, saying Hopkins “nailed” his introductory press conference and handling of Porter.

“I love the fact that he didn’t reach out to the Porters ahead of time, I love the fact that he wasn’t their first call, I love that he’s not gonna entertain any of that drama,” Huard said. “That, unfortunately, is  part of what Lorenzo did at the end, some of the desperate moves that he made at the end to salvage (his job) and save it.”

Huard, who previously compared Hopkins’ hiring to that of UW football coach Chris Petersen, saw another similarity with the UW football coach’s previous actions: How Petersen dismissed star cornerback Marcus Peters midseason over a discipline issue and didn’t chase prep quarterback Jacob Eason.

“(Petersen) just said I’m not gonna play to that crowd, I’m not gonna go down this road,” Huard said. “I’m not gonna do it. … I’m gonna recruit you but I’m gonna recruit you the way I’m gonna recruit everybody else. Not by a different set of rules, not by a different set of standards. I’m not gonna placate the family, I’m not gonna placate the dad. I’m gonna go about it as business as usual and stay in the lane of what we wanna do here, and Mike Hopkins doesn’t want to entertain all of this drama.”

Salk hopes Hopkins sticks to the value-driven philosophy.

“The values have to align, you have to get the right fit, you need to have an identity that you are recruiting to and you can’t get caught up in every single kid and allowing the kids to run your program,” Salk said. “It’s college basketball, not pro basketball. And you have to be in charge, you have to recruit for your style, for your system and for your fit. Kudos to him. And if it means that Michael Porter Jr. ends up going to Missouri or God knows where else, oh well. That’s life.”

“This is gonna be a program when it comes to fit that’s gonna be about ownership, not about leasing,” Huard added. “I think Mr. Hopkins made that clear yesterday.”

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