High school basketball coach Joel Hopkins knew "how to work people, especially young people. The more troubled they are, the more convincing he is." Hopkins talent for luring young players away from their high schools and into his program earned him the name "Coach Midnight." While working out of Durham, N.C., Hopkins would systematically "kidnap" young players from various high schools to join his program, promising them merchandising deals with the likes of Adidas and Nike, and prospects of going to schools like Kentucky or Alabama, or directly into the NBA. Prospects going into Hopkins program come with aspirations of emulating direct-to-NBA player Tracy McGrady, whom Hopkins coached at Durham's Mount Zion Christian Academy. When Hopkins felt he was done with one program he would move on to create another, taking all of his players with him. In this article Bruce Feldman examines the history of "Coach Midnight," and the problems he has left in his wake.
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