Illinois Basketball: Illini “in the thick of it” for Bryce Hopkins

One of the biggest targets left on the board for the Illinois basketball team is Bryce Hopkins.

Hopkins, a 6-foot-7, 220-pound power forward out of Fenwick High School, has all signs pointing him toward the Kentucky Wildcats. After backing away from his commitment to the Louisville Cardinals, the “experts” at 247Sports started predicting the Wildcats as the eventual landing spot.

The earliest Hopkins to Kentucky prediction came on August 21 and the most recent was on Saturday when one of the “experts” decided to put a nine out of 10 confidence that the young Oak Park native would be heading to the Blue Grass State.

Obviously, everyone wants to land a player like Hopkins. Rated as a four-star recruit and ranked as the No. 30 player in the country, this kid has roughly 19 scholarship offers. Illinois has been one of the teams that have put their name in the hat, though.

Hopkins cut his list down to nine teams on August 30 and kept the Illini alive, among others. Another cut was supposed to come on September 25, but Hopkins decided that he would make a decision based on his top nine, so another cut didn’t come. And now we are all waiting to see where the power forward is going to land.

While we wait and while he picks up more Kentucky predictions, an interesting tidbit from Eric Bossi over at 247Sports was published this past Friday.

Bossi answered questions from a variety of fanbases including the Illini. A question was posed about where Illinois stood with Hopkins. Bossi had some interesting comments on the topic and even said the Illini aren’t out of the running.

“To address Illinois specifically, the Illini look to be in the thick of it and Brad Underwood and his staff are making up ground as the recruitment nears an end. Certainly, their chances look much improved compared to 7-10 days go.”

These statements should get Illinois fans cautiously optimistic on the Hopkins front. In addition to Bossi mentioning Illinois’ chances at Hopkins being improved, I did have an opportunity to talk with Illini commit Luke Goode last week. He mentioned that he has been recruiting Hopkins to come to Champaign.

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It is going to be interesting to see if Illinois can sneak in and nab Hopkins. They have put a lot of resources into the in-state product. Hopefully, we can keep the kid home and continue the push for a national title.