As Mike Hopkins was being introduced Wednesday as Washington’s new men’s basketball coach, star signee Michael Porter Jr. was telling reporters that he will seek a release from his national letter of intent and consider other schools.
Porter, the No. 1-ranked recruit in the country, was named the Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year on Wednesday, and told USA Today (among others) that while he is still considering the Huskies, he has not met with Hopkins. He also said his father, UW assistant Michael Porter Sr., has an offer from Missouri to join that staff as an assistant.
Porter Jr. committed to former UW coach Lorenzo Romar -- his godfather -- who was fired by the school last week. It is widely believed that Porter Jr. will not play for the Huskies if Romar is not the coach.
“I love Seattle and from what I hear Mike Hopkins is that dude, so I’m gonna talk to him and see what he’s saying,” Porter told USA Today.
UW athletic director Jen Cohen said Hopkins has yet to meet with Porter Sr., who recently completed the first year of a two-year contract, though he will in the coming days to determine whether he wants to retain Porter Sr. on his new staff. Cohen has also said any signed recruit who meets Hopkins and no longer wants to come to UW will be granted a release from his letter. Blake Harris, a point guard prospect from North Carolina, announced Tuesday that he has been granted his release.
Asked Wednesday if he plans to meet with the Porter family, Hopkins replied: “There’s no question. Like I said before, it’s been like a lightning flash that’s been coming so fast. Getting our family out here, trying to find a place to live for those three children over there … We’ve reached out to a lot of people but it’s hard because each phone call is about 45, 50 minutes. ... We’re definitely going to be sitting down and meeting with the Porter family very soon, even today.”
Hopkins also confirmed that he will retain UW assistant Will Conroy, who worked for the past two seasons as an assistant on Romar’s staff. Conroy attended Wednesday’s press conference and said he is working diligently to convince Garfield High guards Daejon Davis and Jaylen Nowell, both UW signees, to remain committed to the Huskies.
“I tell them, ‘so far, I’ve trusted him,’” Conroy said of Hopkins. “And then another thing with the guys that I’ve recruited personally, it’s about Seattle. It’s about putting your hometown on your chest first, and then putting it on your back on the court. That’s life changing. When you are able to win here in Seattle and you’re from here, that’s life changing, in my opinion.”
Conroy said he has spoken with both Seattle recruits and their families -- and said Hopkins has, too -- but neither has made a decision.
“The conversations went well,” Conroy said. “We’ll meet with them as soon as Coach gets a free second. I feel good about it, but you never know in this business. I’ve had a kid that I thought I had last summer, and I didn’t get him. So you never know.”
Hopkins said he was “blown away” when he met Conroy, and said it was an easy decision to retain him as part of his staff.
“I’ve never met somebody with more school loyalty, city loyalty than Will Conroy,” Hopkins said. “I went through the offices today and went by Will’s office and it just defined him and kind of gave me goosebumps. It was a picture of him as a player and he’s ripping his jersey over to the side and you know how a picture says a thousand words? It said about a million words about who he is as a person, what his character is, how much he loves his school and what he’s going ot do moving forward and I feel so fortunate and lucky that he believed enough in me to join the staff.”