Tim Hopps will never forget his last high school basketball game. It was in 2008 and he was playing for Rockford Lutheran, one win away from making it to the Illinois' state tournament's Sweet 16.
The 6-foot-2 post player was having a career night, scoring 20 and doing all the dirty work. But when a player from Huntley High School nailed a buzzer beater, a deep impression was left with Hopps.
"I will never forget that ball going through that net," Hopps said. "I think that memory brought me back to the game and where I am today."
On Thursday, Hopps was named the new boys basketball coach at Whiting. He replaces Derrick Milenkoff, who resigned in June. Milenkoff had a record of 35-92 record after six years on the job. The Oilers were state ranked on several occasions under Milenkoff.
Hopps just graduated from Valparaiso University, where he was the Crusaders' team manager for both Homer and Bryce Drew. Last winter, while student teaching, he coached the freshmen girls basketball team at Valparaiso as an assistant.
"Working with the Drews of course, you're going to get the Xs and Os like you would with most D-I programs," Hopps said. "But what I remember the most from them is how they developed young men as leaders and role models.
"That's what I want to do at Whiting."
Athletic director Paul Laub said he was most impressed by what Hopps brought to the interview table as a teacher. Laub believes his new coach can carry over what Milenkoff started.
Hopps will teach social studies at the school.
"We were most impressed by the way he would conduct himself as a teacher," Laub said. "And I am sure he'll be able to take the same energy onto the basketball court.
"Derrick got it going and I believe that Tim will keep Whiting basketball moving in the right direction."