Reports: Walt Hopkins chosen as new coach of Liberty

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The Cheryl Reeve coaching tree has grown a branch in Brooklyn.

According to multiple reports, the New York Liberty have chosen Walt Hopkins, an assistant under Reeve with the Minnesota Lynx, as the team’s next head coach.

The reported hiring of Hopkins concludes New York’s coaching search, which commenced when the team decided not to renew the contract of former coach Katie Smith after two years where the team went a combined 17-51. The team also played both seasons at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, which did not exactly earn the most rave of reviews.

Hopkins’ hiring by the Liberty would denote the second consecutive offseason where a Reeve assistant has been hired by a team. The Chicago Sky hired James Wade prior to the 2019 season, a season where the Sky finished 20-14 and nearly advanced to the WNBA semifinals. Wade won Coach of the Year honors as well.

Hopkins’ previous coaching stops include Cal where he was academic coach from 2014-16. His prior WNBA experience also includes a stop in Tulsa with the Shock.

The most recent reports mentioned Hopkins as one of the final three candidates along with Washington Mystics assistant Eric Thibault.

His hire means he will take over a Liberty team moving from Westchester to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and coming off those two seasons where they went 17-51. New York is a team poised to ascend back to the top of the league’s attendance figures with the Barclays move and poised to ascend back to the top of the league’s standings with a core that includes Tina Charles, Asia Durr, Kia Nurse, Amanda Zahui B and the No. 1 overall pick, which likely will be Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu.

The hire is coming under some criticism because it marks the eighth out of the 12 head coaching positions in the WNBA that will be filled by a man. The exceptions are Reeve (Lynx), Sandy Brondello (Phoenix Mercury), Marianne Stanley (Indiana Fever) and Nicki Collen (Atlanta Dream).

A press conference was held at Barclays Center with Hopkins and Libs’ general manager Jonathan Kolb on Wednesday Jan. 8.

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