Its official, the Barclay Center’s newest team just announced their head coach, Walt Hopkins, and with it another step into the future for the New York Liberty.
Hopkins, who spent the last three seasons with the Minnesota Lynx, one of the WNBA’s top franchises, is a first-time head coach but is believed to be ready to turn the franchise around. During his three seasons with the Lynx, Hopkins helped accumulate a 63-39 record, three consecutive trips to the WNBA Playoffs and one WNBA Championship––not including the win that got the team a visit to the home of Prince.
“We could not be more excited to welcome Walt Hopkins to the New York Liberty,” said Liberty General Manager Jonathan Kolb. “Walt is not only a student of the game, he’s a student of people. His elite ability to connect and build relationships will go a long way towards establishing sustainable winning habits within a culture to which people want to contribute. “
Hopkins will take over as head coach ahead of the Liberty’s inaugural season in Brooklyn at Barclays Center, which was announced in October. He will also be tasked with selecting the overall No. 1 pick in the 2020 WNBA draft, which is expected to be Sabrina Ionescu, the Oregon point guard who is a triple-double machine. Former MVP, Tina Charles, one of the WNBA’s biggest names, will also be on Hopkins to-do list as he will push for the all-star to take more shots from behind the three-point line.
It will be a job loaded with a great deal of expectations for Hopkins, but the young coach sees the possibilities in Brooklyn.
“The ownership, the No. 1 pick, the new arena, the move to Brooklyn, all of it are factors,” Hopkins, 34, said at his Barclays Center news conference. ”Had this team been in Westchester with this ownership, I still would have jumped at it. Those are the icing on the cake. Things that are really nice, I didn’t need them to help make the decision; it was more about the people.”
Prior to joining the Lynx staff, Hopkins served as Academic Coach at the University of California, Berkeley. He also served as the assistant women’s basketball coach at Utah Valley University and Director of Basketball Operations and Player Development Coach for the Tulsa Shock.
“I couldn’t possibly be more excited to join the Liberty organization,” said Hopkins. “Few teams can lay claim to a more storied history, or a more passionate, dedicated, and knowledgeable fan base than this franchise.