Robert Hopkins

Robert Hopkins (1934-2015)

Teams coached: Prairie View A&M Panthers, Alcorn A&M Braves, Xavier (LA) Gold Rush, Seattle SuperSonics, Southern Jaguars, Grambling State Tigers, Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks
Prairie View A&M record^: 10-14 (.417)
Alcorn State record^: 70-12 (.854)
Xavier (LA) record: 89-47 (.654)
Southern record: 38-19 (.667)
Grambling State record: 44-45 (.494)
Maryland Eastern Shore record: 5-29 (.147)
Overall record^: 256-166 (.607)

Career Accomplishments:

  • NCAA National Championships:  0
  • NCAA Tournament Appearances:  1  (1985)
  • NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen:  0
  • NIT Championships:  0
  • NIT Appearances:  0
  • SWAC Regular Season Champion:  6  (1967, 1968, 1969, 1986, 1987, 1989)
  • SWAC Tournament Champion:  1  (1985)
  • NCAA Division II Tournament Appearances:  1  (1969)
  • NAIA Tournament Appearances:  2  (1967, 1968, 1972, 1973)


  • SWAC Coach of the Year(1967, 1968, 1969)
  • National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame (inducted 2o13)

Coaching Career (head coach, unless noted):

1990-1991 Maryland Eastern Shore
1986-1989 Grambling State
1984-1986 Southern
1983-1984 Grambling State (women’s head coach)
1978-1980 New York Knicks (asst)
1977 Seattle SuperSonics
1974-1977 Seattle SuperSonics (asst)
1969-1974 Xavier (LA)
1966-1969 Alcorn A&M
1964-1965 Prairie View A&M

Robert Hopkins Facts

  • Robert M. Hopkins
  • Born November 3, 1934
  • Died May 15, 2015
  • Hometown: Jonesboro, Louisiana
  • Alma Mater: Grambling College (BA, 1956)
  • A multi-sport star at Jackson HS (LA), Hopkins played football, basketball, baseball and ran track (invited to the 1956 Olympics but declined)
  • Hopkins played basketball at Grambling, becoming the program’s first true star player and the first to have a professional career after graduation
    • Selected in the 10th round of the 1956 NBA Draft by the Syracuse Nationals and spent four years with the franchise
  • Started is coaching career at Prairie View, going 10-14 in his lone season (1964-65) with the program
  • Spent three seasons as the head coach at Alcorn A&M (now State) and was very successful, going 70-12 overall
    • Went to the NAIA Tournament in both 1967 and 1968 and then NCAA College Division (now D-II) Tournament in 1969; entered the latter with a perfect 25-0 record before losing in the regional final (Sweet Sixteen) to finish 26-1 overall
    • Won three-straight SWAC titles and was named the SWAC COY each year he was at Alcorn
  • Returned to his home state to be the head coach at Xavier (LA), leading the Gold Rush for five seasons
    • Was 89-47 overall and had two more NAIA Tournament appearances
    • Coached future NBA/ABA players Bruce Seals and Donald “Slick” Watts during his time at Xavier
  • Spent a few years working as an assistant for his cousin, the great Bill Russell, with the NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics
    • Chosen by Russell to be his successor at head coach, but went just 5-17 in 1977 and was replaced by Lenny Wilkens
  • Was an assistant with the New York Knicks for two seasons, working under head coach Red Holzman
  • Worked as the head women’s basketball coach for one year at his alma mater, going 10-18
  • Hired in 1984 to be the head coach at Southern, leading the Jaguars to a 38-19 record over two years at the helm
    • His 1984-85 team won the SWAC Tournament to earn the program’s second-ever NCAA Tournament bid
  • Went back to Grambling in 1986 to coach the Tigers and had moderate success wit his alma mater
    • Went 44-45 overall but did win two SWAC regular season titles (outright in 1987 and shared in 1989)
    • Resigned in 1989 amidst sanctions from the NCAA
  • Final coaching job was at Maryland-Eastern Shore, where he was just 5-29 overall in 1+ season at the helm
    • Resigned six games into his second season (0-6) and retired from coaching
  • He and his wife returned to the Pacific Northwest and settled in Mercer Island, Washington outside Seattle
  • Inducted into the NAIA HOF (1963), Louisiana Sports HOF (1978), Grambling Legends HOF (2009), SWAC HOF (2013) and National College Basketball HOF (2013)
  • Hopkins passed away at age 80 in 2015 after a battle with congestive heart and kidney failure
    • Survived by his wife, Beverly, their four children, four grandchildren and one great grandchild

Robert Hopkins Coaching Tree

  • Avery Johnson (Alabama, Brooklyn/New Jersey Nets, Dallas Mavericks)
  • Bobby Wilkerson (Maryland Eastern Shore)


^ overall record includes head coaching positions at the men’s NCAA Division I and Division II levels only; Alcorn and PVAMU were both D-II programs during Hopkins’ tenures there