Hazleton, Pa. - Robbie Hopkins from Mountain Top, Pa. first donned the Nittany Lion uniform in the fall of 2016 and although he made just two starts during that freshman year, it was clear that the ball would be in good hands for the next three years. The team won just six games in the Penn State University Athletic Conference that season, but in the years to come, Hopkins played a huge role in reversing that trend and lead his team to three straight PSUAC post-season berths.
Never much of a numbers guy, Hopkins provided the Nittany Lions with so many intangibles on the court. "He's been a captain of the team for two seasons and a tremendous coach on the floor for us for all four years," said Head Coach Jeff Rush. "Easily the best pure point guard in the league, one of the best defensive players and as rock solid as they come."
Hopkins' presence on the court was a true luxury for the program. In four years of action, the point guard logged over three thousand minutes on the court but turned the ball over just 172 times. That's an astounding figure when you consider just how many times Hopkins crossed half court with the ball in hands. Many times, that trip came under intense pressure, and yet he turned the ball over just 1.8 times a game for his career.
During his final year in uniform, Hopkins continued to up his game. He led the PSUAC in assists per game with 4.6 dimes a night and topped out with the league's best assist to turnover margin, nearly doubling the next best ratio of any player averaging 30 or more minutes per game. Hopkins played so well down the stretch that he would help Hazleton seal up their third straight playoff berth on the heels of the senior being named Player of the Week in the PSUAC. Hopkins tossed in a career high 25 points on 7-of-11 shooting from beyond the arc against the eventual PSUAC champions in Penn State Mont Alto, followed by a double-digit assist performance in a playoff clinching game at Lehigh Valley to earn the POTW honors for the first time in his career.
With his collegiate career now at a close, it's easy to look back with great admiration for his performances on and off the court. Robbie went to war night in and night out for the Hazleton NIttany Lions. He finished his playing career with 759 points with 135 triples and a career free throw percentage over 74 percent. Additionally, Hopkins added 349 dimes, well over 100 steals and exactly zero disqualifications in 94 games. He also won virtually every academic award a student can achieve including four PSUAC All-Academic Team Awards, three USCAA All-Academic Team selections and made the Dean's List every semester during his tenure. Add it up and you can see why his coaches hold him in such high regard.
With that chapter behind him Hopkins looks to the future to continue his passion for the game. Robbie just completed his bachelor's degree in Corporate Communications from Penn State Hazleton and is already eyeing several options to work as a graduate assistant coach. Wherever he lands, Hopkins plans to pursue a master's degree in business while working towards his ultimate goal of becoming a collegiate basketball coach.
We caught up with "Hop" last week for a Q & A about his career at Penn State:
What impact did athletics have on your experience as a college student and your life in general?
A lot of my career revolved around playing basketball at the campus. I spent six months out of the year working through practices and games so it had a major impact on how I went about my business. That was my schedule every year and it taught me a lot about managing my time so I could be successful and get all of my work done. You also go through lots of ups and downs over the course of a game or an entire season and you need to push through those difficulties. That's something that translates well to off-the-court situations as well.
What advice do you have for your younger teammates or recruits?
Focus on your schoolwork and work as hard as you can everyday to make yourself better on the court and as a student.
What has been your favorite memory while participating in athletics?
It's hard to pick just one but making the playoffs the past three years is something I'll take with me from my time there.
If you could play any other sport, what would it be and why?
Probably soccer. I played that growing up and it was always my second favorite sport.
What are you up to now during the quarantine?
Not doing too much. Just finished up my last four classes and started going back to work. I'm staying in shape the best I can.
Are there any teammates, coaches or family members you want to thank for having a positive impact on you career?
Thanks to the coaching staff for working hard and putting me into a position to succeed and to my family for supporting me and coming to all the games. I especially want to thank my teammate Jonte Washington who was with me all four years. He worked hard and pushed me to get better every day.