That open scholarship didn’t stay open for long.
Just several days after the Siena men’s basketball program lost starting guard Don Carey, the Saints secured a commitment from guard Nick Hopkins. A graduate transfer from Belmont, Hopkins will be immediately eligible to play for the Saints during the 2020-21 season.
“The main thing for me was to go to a program that’s successful,” Hopkins said Wednesday in a phone interview. “I’m from a winning culture at Belmont, and I’m accustomed to that. I’m not playing to lose. That’s why I felt Siena was the best fit for me.”
A 6-foot-0 guard from Fayetteville, Tennessee, Hopkins played in 94 games across three seasons at Belmont. For his college career, Hopkins has made 37.4% of his 3-point attempts and averaged 6.5 points in 15.3 minutes per game. At Belmont, Hopkins took 78.8% of his shot attempts from 3-point range — and he took 0.28 shots from 3-point territory for every minute he played.
Hopkins redshirted during his freshman year. During his four seasons at Belmont, the Bruins finished 100-29.
In Siena, which finished 20-10 last season and seemed on its way to winning its first MAAC tournament since 2010 before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the season, Hopkins said he is joining a program capable of competing for a trip to the NCAA tournament. Hopkins should play a significant role for the Saints as a capable long-range shooter for a team in need of one.
“I’m playing with Jalen Pickett,” said Hopkins, referring to Siena’s lead guard and the reigning MAAC Player of the Year. “I can space the floor. I can spot up. I know how to read coverages.”
Siena didn’t shoot a lot of 3-pointers last season, but head coach Carmen Maciariello's program did lose a sizable chunk of its production from downtown. Siena’s returning players for the 2020-21 season were only responsible for 63.4% of the team’s 3-point attempts.
“I’m a shooter,” Hopkins said, “but I can put it on the floor, too.”
The 22-year-old Hopkins only spent a week in the NCAA transfer portal before committing to Siena. Hopkins said he selected Siena over Missouri State and Northeastern.
“It was short, but sweet,” Hopkins said of his recruitment process.
Carey was a starter last season for Siena and averaged 11.4 points per game. His decision to transfer heightened Siena’s need for scoring heading into next season, as the Saints also lost Elijah Burns — to graduation — from its group of four double-digit scorers. Pickett, a rising junior, led the Saints in scoring at 15.1 points per game, Burns was second at 14.4 and rising senior Manny Camper — who is still testing the NBA draft waters, but is expected back at Siena — was next at 13.7.
At Belmont, Hopkins was a part of three teams that won regular-season conference championships and one squad that made it to the NCAA tournament.
“That’s what everyone competes for,” Hopkins said. “I’ve been there, and I know how hard it is to get to that point.”