The Story of Scotty Hopson is a Story of Perseverance

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    For some people out there, thinking back to the posterizing slam dunk from Scotty Hopson over a South Carolina defender may not seem like that long ago. Who knows, for some people, Hopson’s 360-degree dunk against Arkansas may have seemed like just yesterday. But in reality, Hopson’s career at Tennessee was over a decade ago. Even still, though, the journey to the NBA hasn’t stopped through the ten years.

    In a great spotlight moment from the NBA last week, Hopson’s story of perseverance was told to the masses.

    The Oklahoma City Thunder signed 32-year-old Scotty Hopson to a quick contract on the 28th of December.

    After leaving Tennessee in 2011, the guard from Kentucky has had a rollercoaster ride of a career that has seen him cross oceans and travel across several borders.

    On Jan. 1, the Thunder were hosting the Knicks and longtime broadcasting veteran Mike Breen was on the call. During the game, Breen took a full two minutes to tell the story about Hopson’s career. Since his departure from Knoxville, Hopson has played for 18 different teams in the last ten years, spread out amongst the NBA, the G-League, and many European leagues.

    With each new team that Hopson joined and with each new season that he began, Hopson’s goal was always to make it back to the NBA. And with the new COVID roster management plans in effect, Hopson is getting to once again prove that he belongs.

    “It’s one of the most remarkable stories on never giving up on your NBA desires,” Breen said on the broadcast. “[Hopson] was a good college player at Tennessee. Played for three years – averaged 17 points per game as a junior and entered the NBA Draft. He didn’t get drafted, so he decided to play in Greece for a year. Next year he plays in Isreal. The next year he plays in Turkey. Then, in 2014, three years out of college, he gets a chance. The (Cleveland) Cavaliers signed him, sent him to the G-League, but never called him up. He played two games, seven total minutes, and that’s it.”

    Even with a crazy first couple of years in the professional basketball world, Hopson’s career was far from over. In fact, it was only just getting started.

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    In the summer of 2014, after the Cavs had initially signed him, Hopson was then traded four times in the course of three months. Hopson then found himself in the G-League once again for a short stint but eventually would have to make the move back out of the United States.

    “Spain, China, Croatia, Turkey,” Breen said as he continued on with the story. “And it doesn’t end there. On Feb. 28, 2018, he gets a 10-day contract with the Dallas Mavericks. His second chance at the NBA – this is seven years out of college and he is getting his second chance. He plays one game, eight minutes, hits a free throw, and that’s it. Ten-day contract ends and he is gone… back to the G-League”

    After his second attempt at the NBA didn’t work out, Hopson never quit. Instead, the former Volunteer went back overseas to continue to perfect his craft.

    “Goes off to Isreal a second time, then New Zealand, then Australia,” Breen said on the NBA broadcast. “He recovers and plays well over in Australia, and this past October, he comes back and plays for the OKC G-League team.”

    Overall, in the ten years since leaving Tennessee, Hopson has been playing basketball in eight different countries and with 18 different teams. In a career in which Hopson only had three NBA games under his belt prior to his run this season, the former Tennessee star had only racked up 15 total minutes and two free-throw attempts.

    In his first appearance with the Thunder on Dec. 29, Hopson finished the game against the Suns with four points, one rebound, and one assist in 18 minutes of play.

    Hopson, a former star for Tennessee Basketball in the early 2010s, is continuing to prove why perseverance is vital to someone that is chasing their dream. His story also shows that even when life knocks you down, and your dreams feel like they are out of your grasp, never give up. Hopson has had multiple stints in the NBA, all of which could have been his last if he had chosen to give up. But now, entering the close of the 2021-2022 season, Hopson has yet another chance to show what his hard work has accomplished.

    Ric Butler is a Knoxville based sports media personality who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since 2017. Most recently, he served as the lead writer for the website of a local radio station. Ric also helped create and host a daily radio show called “The Blitz." Ric’s passion for sports, smooth vocal, and infectious personality have made him popular with both his peers and Vol Nation. Originally from Dallas, Ric didn’t grow up riding horses to school. But he did dream of the big city lights. When not chasing down the latest Tennessee story, Ric can be found watching the WWE, often attempting their moves in an embarrassing fashion.