HOPKINS, Minn. — It’s hard not to think about the future when watching a Hopkins girls basketball practice.
In just a few years, there’s a chance a handful of Hopkins standouts could be playing for the Gophers.
“I think they want to lock down the borders,” Hopkins head coach Brian Cosgriff said. “I think that’s something new for women’s basketball. Under the prior regime, that wasn’t happening.”
Under Lindsay Whalen’s watch though, the Lindbergh Center has become a frequent stop.
“I kind of get nervous because, whoa she’s in the gym,” guard Amaya Battle said.
“It’s really cool to see somebody we grew up watching,” forward Maya Nnaji said. “She wants us to come play for her, and that’s really cool.”
Whalen already has offers out to the future of the Royals program: 8th grader Taylor Woodson and freshmen phenoms Nnaji and Battle.
But one big question remains: can she get the nation’s number one junior recruit Paige Bueckers to stay?
Bueckers believes she’ll have a decision on her future soon, and while she could go to any college of her choice, it is at least possible Whalen keeps her home.
“She’s been like the icon of Minnesota basketball for a long time,” Bueckers said. “For her to follow me and follow the young girls on the team, it just shows that she cares and she wants us. It means a lot.”
But here’s what’s crazy about this Hopkins team, the Royals have four *other girls who either already have D1 offers or are currently getting looks.
That includes star senior Dlayla Chakolis, a Hampton commit, who at only 5 foot 6 dominates down low.
“They call me Charles Barkley,” Chakolis said. “I’d probably say I’m the most aggressive on the team. Whatever needs to be done, that’s what I’m going to do.”
But the one thing this insanely talented team hasn’t done during the Bueckers era is win a state title, falling short in the championship game three years in a row.
“It’s beyond important to me,” Bueckers said. “I don’t want to have this huge legacy, but people talk about how I didn’t win a state championship.”