By C.D. DESALVO
The game clock turned off with 3:58 left in the fourth and final quarter of the championship game of The Basketball Tournament in Baltimore to instigate the Elam Ending. No. 1 seed and three-time consecutive champion Overseas Elite led the tournament’s underdog surprise team, Eberlein Drive, 63-54. The first team to 70 would win and take home $2,000,000. Eberlein Drive fought hard but the Overseas Elite dynasty could not be overcome, and Eberlein Drive’s Cinderella run ended with a 70-58 loss.
Zachary Hopp was disappointed at missing out on a share of the $2 million, but the experience and journey he was a part of for Eberlein Drive was priceless. A Hays native and 2017 Hays High graduate, Hopp found a passion in video editing in 2016 while watching “The Basketball Tournament” on TV. Former Kansas Jayhawk Tyshawn Taylor, playing for Team FOE (run by former Jayhawks Marcus and Markieff Morris) made an amazing play and Zachary rewinded the feat and filmed it on his phone and sent it to Taylor on social media. Taylor posted it and the post took off.
“Ever since then I was like, I could do something like this for a living,” Hopp said. “I learned everything on my own including how to use Premiere Pro to make videos.”
Hopp started running social media for Team FOE and his video work caught the attention of Eberlein Drive’s general manager Matt Mitchell.
“(Mitchell) asked me if I would like to make some videos for them, so I made their hype video and highlight videos last year and I got involved,” Hopp said.
In the summer of 2018, Team FOE did not continue with the tournament with Marcus Morris reaching the Eastern Conference Finals in the NBA so Mitchell invited Hopp on to travel with Eberlein Drive and make videos during their tournament run. Hopp joined the team in Atlanta for the Super 16.
Hopp would make video breakdowns of opposing teams and create paper scouts for individual players that were up to five pages long, sometimes staying up late into the early mornings. Hopp watched so much video of opposing teams that he could recognize team and player tendencies in-game and be able to let Eberlein Drive players know on the court.
Eberlein Drive’s roster consists of a few former NBA players including Lou Amundson (10-year NBA Vet), Donald Sloan (played for Brooklyn Nets and Indiana Pacers), James Michael McAdoo (2-time NBA champion with Golden State Warriors), Jeremy Evans (2012 NBA Slam Dunk Contest Champion), Willie Reed (played for LA Clippers last season in NBA) and Jerome Randle (All-Tournament Team TBT). They are coached by David Nurse, an NBA shooting coach who has trained over 100 NBA players and previously worked on the Brooklyn Nets coaching staff.
“It was such a blessing when I joined up with the team in Atlanta. They’re just extremely high-character guys that put the team ahead of themselves and there weren’t any egos,” Hopp said. “I’ve never been around a better group of men like that.”
Although the miraculous run ended in the championship game for Hopp and Eberlein Drive, Hopp spends his free time making videos for various athletes on social media attending colleges across the country with his very own video company called Illuminating Athletes Media.
“I just do it on the side for fun. I like being behind the scenes and letting the athletes get the shine because they’re the ones that put in all the work,” Hopp said.
Hopp, now a sophomore at Kansas University, is working on a sports management major and business minor. He is also a women’s basketball manager for Kansas. Hopp wants to continue his video work and turn it into a job one day.
“I want to start out as a video coordinator on an NBA or Division 1 college basketball staff and then just work my way up. The scouting work I did for Eberlein Drive I really enjoyed and I just want to work my way up that ladder and see what happens..maybe even end up in a front office some day,” Hopp said.
Since Eberlein Drive won their region, they get an automatic bid into The Basketball Tournament for next summer. Hopp says he will return with the team.
Here’s some of Hopp’s work:
Hopp also made a video for Kansas State safety Kendall Adams and Hays native/Kansas State quarterback Alex Delton:
Just chill… till the next episode… ⏳🎬 pic.twitter.com/xhXtc6a4pl
— kendall adams (@kenadams_21) February 23, 2018
Visit the Illuminating Athlete’s Twitter for more videos.