MARION, S.C. – Former Marion High School baseball star Craig “CJ” Hopkins Jr. took his slugging act to Claflin University and ended his college career with a highly productive season. To cap off the experience, he graduated Saturday with a degree in sports management.
Hopkins spent the past three seasons with the Panthers and he batted .352 as a senior with seven homeruns on a .617 slugging percentage.
The journey started at Marion High School where he played five seasons with the Swamp Foxes, winning a pair of region titles along with helping Florence Post 1 American Legion win the state title.
Hopkins signed with Florence Darlington Technical College, redshirting his first year then playing the next. He later transferred to Claflin in the spring of 2016.
“Five years of high school experience really open my eyes starting off as a the young guy, looking up to the upper classmen then having to switch roles and set examples for the younger guys,” Hopkins said.
His experience with the Panthers helped him mature a lot along with respecting and valuing the game more, he said.
The leftfielder will be heading to Puerto Rico on June 8 for a collegiate showcase in front of Major League Baseball scouts as well as scouts for the Puerto Rico league.
Hopkins gives a lot of credit to his parents Craig and Tammy Hopkins for helping him stay on track along the way.
“My dad has always been an inspiration in my life,” he said. “He plays so many roles father, best friend, biggest critic. I wouldn’t be the man I am today if it wasn’t for his love and support he gave me.”
As Hopkins continues to accomplish his dreams he remains thoughtful to the Swamp Foxes program where gained experience.
“To the young guys, never give up on your dream regardless the situation. Most importantly, education first. Can’t play the game forever, but that education can never get old,” Hopkins said.