By Madisen Carter
Player Development Coach, Matt Hopkins, has been playing basketball since he was in elementary school. His father put a basketball hoop in his driveway as a kid, and from then on the ball has not left his hands. He started playing in rec leagues around his hometown of Santa Cruz, and as he reached the end of his middle school years, Hopkins decided basketball was something he wanted to keep in his life for as long as possible.
Hopkins graduated from Santa Cruz High School and then went on to play basketball at Cabrillo College. Hopkins said that his collegiate basketball career was cut short due to injuries, and he decided then that he wanted to get on the coaching side of basketball. In 2020, Cabrillo College Head Coach, James Page, offered him an Assistant Coach position.
“I happily took [the opportunity to coach] and then once I started doing that, I realized that ‘Oh I think I can actually do this for a living, this is something that I love doing,’” Hopkins said. “It definitely gave me a new perspective about basketball, seeing it from the other side.”
Along with being Assistant Coach at Cabrillo College and continuing his basketball career, Hopkins also decided to continue his education in Phoenix, Arizona. In December of this year, Hopkins will be graduating with a Masters Degree in Sports Law and Business from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.
Hopkins started working at Unlimited Potential Basketball at the beginning of August, and this week officially marks off three weeks of Hopkins being at the facility. He appreciates the opportunity to work with the younger kids and taking the time to focus on their fundamentals. He said that so far it has been a great experience, and he has enjoyed working with and learning from the other player development coaches at UPB.
“[I] think it [is] a very exciting opportunity to learn from Packie, DyShawn and all the other great coaches that [UPB] has there. The variety of ages and skills is really cool, [for example,] working with kindergarteners all the way up to the highest level, [it is] definitely enhancing my perspective on the sport [which is] really what I'm just trying to do,” Hopkins said.
During his time so far, Hopkins works with athletes in UPB’s group training sessions as well as individually in private sessions. Before a training session, Hopkins makes sure he knows what his clients want to specifically work on and where they are at in their game. This way, he is able to use every minute of the session to benefit his client’s needs and goals.
“[I focus on] just making sure that everyone gets better [and] gets as good as they can in the timeframe that we have,” Hopkins said. “I make sure that they have a fun time. Growing up everyone plays basketball, the bottom line is because it's fun… Hopefully they can fall in love with the game a little more. If I can help with that at all, that's pretty awesome.”
As Hopkins continues his basketball journey, he hopes to work in basketball full time. He looks to either continue as a trainer or become a full time college head coach, which is his main goal. Until then, Hopkins will continue to take in all the opportunities he can and learn as much as possible in the game he has loved since a kid.