There's no doubt that Zain Hopper can flat-out sky.
After all, the former Couch High School standout wowed the crowd at the fourth annual Grizzly All-Star Basketball Classic this past spring with a couple of eye-popping jams during the festivities' slam dunk contest.
Not only did Hopper throw down a couple of nasty reverse stuffs, he also exploded off the floor, over the head of a standing teammate and then delivered a one-handed slam, much to the delight of those gathered inside the West Plains Civic Center.
But there's more to Hopper's game than just hops.
And those other elements helped land the 6-3 forward on the roster of the Lyon College (Batesville) Scots for next year.
"Zain is a really, really good athlete," said Lyon College Head Coach Kevin Jenkins. "Plus, he's left-handed. That might cause a bit of matchup problems for defenders."
Hopper averaged 10 points, 5.5 rebounds and three assists a game for the Couch Indians this past year. He was named All-Conference in both basketball and baseball for the Indians.
Although he has plenty of crafty moves with his back to the basket, Jenkins said Hopper is also versatile enough to wander out of the paint at times.
"I think he does have the ability to defend a bigger person in the post, but he can still go out and guard a small forward on the perimeter," he said.
And the small forward spot may be where Hopper sees most of his court time for the Scots.
"He'll probably be a 3, a slasher-kind of player," Jenkins said. "I saw him at a Christmas tournament and thought he played well. And he came up here and played with the rest of the guys and really seemed to fit in. I think he's a good fit for our program."
According to Jenkins, the key to success at the college level for Hopper is to develop a consistent outside shot. "He does need to develop his perimeter skills," he said. "He needs to shoot the basketball better, and I think he will. If he does, he's a person who could play multiple positions for us."