Truly honored

Grambling State University basketball legend, Bob Hopkins, has been named as a member of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame induction class of 2013. 

As a player, Hopkins averaged 30 points and 17 rebounds a game for the Tigers from 1953-56. He was a two-time National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics All-American under Eddie Robinson – who was not only Grambling’s football coach but also the Tigers’ basketball coach at the time – and was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame in 1961.

Hopkins, helped  lead the Tigers to two conference championships, and is GSU’s all time leading scorer and rebounder.

“This is a true honor,” said Hopkins.  “When I got the call I thought they were pulling my leg at first.  I am truly honored by this.”

“Bob Hopkins has meant a lot to Grambling State University for decades, when he played for the G-Men, when he was a professional player and coach and as a great alum and human being,” said the university’s President Frank G. Pogue. “It is wonderful that the nation learns more about Hopkins with such a wonderful recognition, and it’s a reminder to young folks everywhere that you can achieve great things whether you’re from a small town like Jonesboro in northern Louisiana or anywhere else.”

While at GSU, Hopkins re-wrote the university and national record books.  Hopkins was the first 1000 point scorer in NCAA history. Hopkins also led the team in scoring all four years.  He had 3,759 points and 2,191 rebounds, while at GSU.

“I want to first extend my congratulations to Bob Hopkins for the honor of being selected to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame,” said the university’s athletic director Percy Caldwell.  “Hopkins performance and statistics, as a student athlete and coach, speaks for itself.  This nomination is certainly an honor for Bob Hopkins but it is also an honor for Grambling because it indicates once again, that Grambling State University has produced many, many outstandingly talented individuals over the years.”

Hopkins was a legendary high school player at Jonesboro High School in the 1950’s. He was recruited by then head football and men’s basketball Coach Eddie Robinson and Collie J. Nicholson to come to GSU – the rest is history.  Once he got to GSU he not only continued to be a great scorer, but also became a great defender and ball handler.

“Coach Robinson use to come over after football practice to help me with my footwork,” said Hopkins.  “We did a drill once with a chair on the floor and Coach Rob said that no matter how much I dribble and fake, the chair isn’t going anywhere.” 

As a 6 foot 8 freshman in 1952-53, Hopkins averaged 28 points and 17 rebounds per game. Nicholson provided a nickname in press releases- “Li’l Abner.”

The following summer, another cousin nearly persuaded Hopkins to leave Grambling. He was Bill Russell, then attending the University of San Francisco.

Hopkins spent two consecutive summers with an older sister who was living in San Francisco. He played basketball with Russell, K.C. Jones, Johnny Mathis and other San Francisco players.

Russell, who was born in Monroe, La. but moved to California as a child, tried to talk Hopkins into transferring.

“Collie J. persuaded me to come back to Grambling,” recalled Hopkins.

After his career at Grambling, Hopkins played in the NBA for the Syracuse Nationals for five years.   While completing his student teaching, Hopkins spent his summers playing with the world famous Harlem Globetrotters.  “I was getting 100 dollars a game,” said Hopkins.  “They had a 22 game schedule, but I could only play 11 games, while completing my student teaching.” 

Not only was Hopkins a success on the floor as a player, but he was also a success as a coach.  He won SWAC Titles while at Alcorn, Southern and at Grambling.  At GSU he won the SWAC regular season title in the 1988-89 year.  Hopkins was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame as a player and as a coach.

Joining Hopkins in the Class of 2013 is former United States Congressman Tom McMillen, 1977 national consensus player of the year Marques Johnson of UCLA and coaching legends Gene Keady and Rollie Massimino as well as contributors George Raveling of Nike and George Killian of FIBA.  In addition, the barrier-breaking 1963 Loyola University (Chicago) team will become the first team inducted.

“The Class of 2013 includes some of the smartest and strongest players of the game, loyal coaches and influential contributors, many of whom are still integrally involved in the college game,” said Reggie Minton, Deputy Executive Director of the NABC and chair of the Hall of Fame selection panel. “And to be able to induct an entire team based on its ground-breaking impact makes this class special as well.”

The Class of 2013 will be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame Sunday, November 24, 2013, at the Midland Theatre in Kansas City as part of a three-day celebration of college basketball. The hall of fame is located in the College Basketball Experience, a world-class entertainment facility that provides a multi-faceted interactive experience for fans of the game.