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In Japan, former Jefferson star Mac Hopson waits for games to resume

by: JIM CLARK In March 2004, the Portland Tribune's All-City basketball team gathered for photo opportunities around town. From left are Germain Jordan-Brown, Brian Morris, Donnie Harrison-Davis, Andre Ferguson and Mac Hopson.

Millions of Japanese are still in shock after surviving an estimated 8.9-earthquake-fed tsunami that hammered the northeastern coast, with the death toll almost certain to exceed 10,000.

Former Jefferson High all-PIL point guard Mac Hopson is among those who lived through the disaster.

'Everything is good,' Hopson reports. 'I'm safe, at least.'

The 6-2, 185-pound Hopson plays professional basketball for the Sendai 89ers. He finished his college career at the University of Idaho, where he was a standout player for two seasons after transferring from Washington State. He played one year at WSU and a year before that at North Idaho College.

Sendai was the hardest-hit city. Many have reported that the damage compares to that of Ground Zero in New York City.

Hopson and his team were on the road, traveling to play an opponent, when the earthquake shook the island.

'I was eating in a restaurant with my teammates, 30 minutes from Sendai, when it all went down,' Hopson says. 'We were on our way to an away game. We were at a rest stop, then it hit us.'

Hopson, admittedly still in shock, says he isn't sure when the team will return to Sendai. He says he is in no rush, and is thankful that he and the other players and coaches are in a safe spot for the time being.

'Thank God we weren't in our city at the time,' Hopson says. 'It would have been all bad. It's been crazy.

'We will just have to see what happens in the next couple of days with things. We haven't been back to Sendai since it happened.'

Hopson, who is in his first pro season, says they are supposed to be on the road for a while but that games have been postponed until further notice.

'We're in a city four hours away, where we were about to play our game,' he says.

The team will return to Sendai 'when the electricity comes back,' he says.

Hopson knows it's a waiting process and everyone must be patient.

'It's been a crazy few days, for sure,' he says.

Hopson played a pivotal role in Jefferson's success from 2002-2005. He hopes to make an NBA roster someday. His father, Phillip Sr., helped Idaho to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 in 1982 and played professionally in Argentina and Australia. The Trail Blazers drafted him in the ninth-round and 199th overall in 1983, the same year Clyde Drexler was drafted No. 14.

During Mac Hopson's two-year campaign at Idaho from 2008-2010, he averaged 16.4 points as a junior and 14.4 as a senior.

'I've gotten compliments from guys telling me if I work hard I can play in the NBA, that I could make a roster,' he says. 'I could be one of those guys. I got that from the majority of people, but we'll see. I hope my break comes, because I feel my game has been underrated my whole life, and if my break comes and God blesses me, I just have to be ready for it.'