Story by Evan Tidwell, contributing writer
Becoming a Division I athlete and earning a scholarship is the dream for most high school athletes, and freshman guard Zach Hopewell is already halfway to achieving this goal after earning a walk-on position on the Murray State men’s basketball team this year.
Hopewell, was a three-year starter at Apollo High School in Owensboro, Kentucky, before he made his transition to Murray State’s men’s basketball program over the summer. The 2017 Mr. Basketball finalist, who was rarely seen sitting on the bench in his high school days, went from averaging 30 minutes a game to sitting on the bench and encouraging his team.
Hopewell said he is ready for the transition from high school to college ball and is excited for how the season looks.
“The biggest difference would be the speed of the game is quicker, going from a smaller level of play to the highest level of basketball you can play besides professionally,” Hopewell said. “The ball gets up and down the court a lot faster than it did in high school. “
After his stint in high school, Hopewell grew to love being on the court, but when he made his decision to become a walk-on at Murray State University, he knew he would be giving up playing time.
“One of the biggest reasons I chose to come to Murray State was because both of my brothers were here, so it kind of connected with Murray,” Hopewell said. “They are predominantly known for their basketball program. They have been to the NCAA tournament 15 times and I felt like it would be a really good experience for me.”
Hopewell isn’t satisfied with just being on the team, however. He said he is determined to work his way up to garner a key role and even earn a coveted scholarship spot.
“Obviously I want to eventually earn a scholarship and have a bigger role on the team other than bringing the team together as a whole,” Hopewell said. “I want to make these guys better and bend the team as whole.
Hopewell has made a connection with the players on the basketball team and said some of his teammates will remain his friends forever.
“Some of the guys on this team will be friends for as long as I am alive,” Hopewell said. “Brion Whitley, my roommate, is like my best friend. We do everything together and I’ve grown really close to him.”
Hopewell said he looks forward to the season and hopes that he can have a more prominent role for the team as they go on.