Washington coach Mike Hopkins yells to the team during a game against California on Feb. 17 in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

Washington coach Mike Hopkins yells to the team during a game against California on Feb. 17 in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

Looking back at Mike Hopkins’ turbulent tenure as UW men’s basketball coach

The departing Huskies coach had highs early, but the good times didn’t last long.

In hindsight, it wasn’t all bad, and perhaps in a few years, Husky fans may fondly remember Mike Hopkins’ turbulent tenure with the Washington men’s basketball team.

Here’s a timeline of Hopkins’ UW career.

March 19, 2017: Four days after firing Lorenzo Romar, Washington agrees to a six-year, $12.3 million deal with 47-year-old Hopkins to be its next head coach. He’s a surprising choice for many in the Pacific Northwest not familiar with the 21-year Syracuse assistant designated to replace head coach Jim Boeheim. During his initial news conference in Seattle, Hopkins promises to restore UW to prominence. “I’m telling you now, you’ve got to trust me,” he says. “I wouldn’t be here, sitting in this seat, if I didn’t feel I could make it happen.”

Dec. 6, 2017: Technically, Hopkins’ first game with the Huskies is a 79-69 nonconference win against Eastern Washington on Nov. 12, 2017. But for practical purposes, the Hopkins era begins with a shocking 74-65 road upset over No. 2 Kansas. It’s one of the biggest wins in UW history and just the fourth time the Huskies beat a team ranked No. 2 or higher since 1978.

Feb. 1, 2018: Dominic Green makes one of the greatest shots in Husky history — a corner three-pointer at the buzzer that beats No. 9 Arizona 78-75, sparking a court-storming celebration and spoils Romar’s return to Montlake.

March 21, 2019: Hopkins’ second year is one of the most accomplished seasons on Montlake. Washington is 27-9, which is the third-highest winning percentage (.750) since 1978. UW dominates the Pac-12 and easily wins the regular-season title at 15-3. Moreover, the Huskies snap their eight-year NCAA tournament drought. Jaylen Nowell wins Pac-12 player of the year and Matisse Thybulle nabs national defensive player of the year honors. UW rewards Hopkins with a six-year, $17.5 million contract extension.

March 24, 2019: The ninth-seeded Huskies upset No. 8 seed Utah State 78-61 in the first round of the NCAA tournament. However, the good times are short-lived due to a sobering 81-59 defeat against No. 1-seed North Carolina two days later.

Dec. 25, 2019: This marks the pinnacle of Hopkins’ career. He’s 21/2 years into his tenure and hailed as the wunderkind that’s restored a hoops dynasty in Seattle. He’s won two Pac-12 Coach of the Year awards and compiled a 58-24 record (.707), including 25-11 (.694) in conference. Following a 75-71 loss to Houston on Christmas Day in the Diamond Head Classic, the Huskies begin a long, slow march to mediocrity.

Jan. 9, 2020: UW point guard Quade Green is ruled academically ineligible for the remainder of the season. It’s a devastating blow for the Huskies, who were 11-4 and 1-1 in the Pac-12. In hindsight, Green, a former McDonald’s All-American who transferred from Kentucky, is the most important player on a star-studded team that includes freshmen standouts Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels. UW rotates Elijah Hardy, Marcus Tsohonis, Jamal Bey and RaeQuan Battle at Green’s spot. But the offense bottoms out and no one matches the productivity of Green, who averaged 11.6 points and had a team-leading 79 assists. The Huskies win four of their remaining 17 games and finish 15-17, including 5-13 in the Pac-12.

Nov. 29, 2020: Things begin to really unwind for Hop. After Stewart and McDaniels bolt for the NBA and are taken in the first round of the draft, UW nabs shooters Erik Stevenson and Cole Bajema in the transfer portal and switches to a perimeter-oriented offense that flops massively. Making matters worse, the COVID pandemic wreaks havoc on an abbreviated schedule. Admittedly, Hopkins should have canceled the season opener against No. 2 Baylor, an 82-56 disaster, which was a prelude to one of the worst seasons in UW history. Washington finishes 5-21, including 4-16 in the Pac-12, which puts Hopkins on the hot seat for the first time.

Dec. 5, 2020: UW guard Nahziah Carter is suspended by the University of Washington after an investigation upheld two sexual assault allegations, which ends his college basketball career. During three seasons with the Huskies, Carter averaged 8.4 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 102 games.

Jan. 29, 2022: Hopkins’ fifth season might best be remembered as the year when the kids came home to save the Huskies. Terrell Brown Jr., Emmitt Matthews Jr., Daejon Davis and PJ Fuller transfer to UW with the intent of restoring the program to glory. There’s several nice moments, including Brown’s pursuit of the Pac-12 scoring title and a wild 77-73 double overtime win over Utah. Washington’s 17-15 finish and 11-9 mark in the Pac-12 is considered a step in the right direction for Hopkins.

Nov. 24, 2022: Another offseason, another roster makeover that features transfers Keion Brooks Jr., Noah Williams, Braxton Meah and Franck Kepnang. The Huskies notch a 68-64 overtime victory over Saint Mary’s to win their first in-season competition since 2014. UW starts 9-3, followed by a 4-10 stretch, before finishing with three straight losses at 16-16 and 8-12 in the Pac-12. Jen Cohen, UW’s athletic director at the time, gives Hopkins one more year.

Dec. 9, 2023: In a make-or-break season, Hopkins gives UW fans one last parting gift — a 78-73 upset win over No. 7 Gonzaga, which snaps a seven-game losing streak to the cross-state rivals and sparks a midcourt celebration at Hec Ed. Kepnang is the star of the game with 14 points, seven rebounds and five blocks. However, the 6-foot-11 center suffers a season-ending knee injury the next week and the Huskies’ new man-to-man defense falters.

March 8, 2024: After a 74-68 road win against Washington State, UW athletic director Troy Dannen announces in a statement Hopkins will not return next season.

March 13, 2024: The Huskies fall 80-74 to USC in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament. The loss gives Hopkins a 118-106 record at UW, which is the fifth-most wins in program history.

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