Hopkins brings valuable experience, shooting to Siena basketball

Nick Hopkins is shown Tuesday during Siena men's basketball's media day in Loudonville. (Erica Miller)

Nick Hopkins is shown Tuesday during Siena men's basketball's media day in Loudonville. (Erica Miller)

Categories: -The Daily Gazette, College Sports, Sports

LOUDONVILLE — Why does Siena men’s basketball head coach Carmen Maciariello like fifth-year senior Nick Hopkins, a graduate transfer from Belmont, so much?

It’s pretty simple, really.

“He does everything the right way,” Maciariello said at Tuesday’s media-day event on Siena’s campus.

Also?

“He’s won,” Maciariello said.

While the Saints won their last 10 games last season as part of a 20-win campaign that closed when the college basketball season prematurely ended because of the coronavirus pandemic, Hopkins is the lone player on Siena’s roster that has played in an NCAA tournament game. Beyond that, his teams at Belmont won 77.8% of its games in his three seasons serving as a valuable long-range shooter off the bench.

He’s not flashy; Hopkins joked Tuesday his top on-court highlights likely consist of “3-pointers, maybe some floaters, a layup here or there — maybe a pass?” But the 6-foot-0 guard who committed to Siena right after Don Carey — who ended up at Georgetown — left the program appears likely to play a critical role for the Saints as a floor spacer and savvy veteran.

Beyond junior guard Jalen Pickett, the reigning MAAC Player of the Year, Siena’s backcourt rotation looks likely to require minutes from youngsters such as freshman Aidan Carpenter and sophomore Jordan King. That makes Hopkins’ experience just as valuable as his shooting touch for the Saints.

“It takes the little things to win championships,” Hopkins said. “I’ve learned that, and I’ve tried to instill that into the younger guys.”

From Fayetteville, Tennessee, Hopkins made 37.4% of his 3-point attempts and averaged 6.5 points in 15.3 minutes per game in his years at Belmont. Hopkins took 78.8% of his shot attempts from 3-point range.

Hopkins is confident he can do more on the court than give Siena a reliable long-range shooter, but he’s also comfortable filling that role if that’s how things work out within the Saints’ rotation. The complete lack of 5-on-5 court time since Hopkins made his way to Siena hasn’t made the transition easy for the graduate student, but he said he’s studied game footage from last season’s Siena games, as well as from this fall’s offseason workouts, to get a feel for how his new teammates play and where open looks might be found within Maciariello’s offense.

“I’m new to the system, so I’m trying to find that extra edge by just studying the system on both ends,” Hopkins said.

That type of commitment is what Maciariello expects from Hopkins, and is one of the major reasons the coach wanted to bring the guard into his program.

“Nick’s a winner. Nick’s high character. Great teammates, great person — and he just wants to win,” Maciariello said. “That’s why he came here.”

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