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Longtime foes on hardwood will be teammates on Brazil tour


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Jocelyn Hamilton and Alicia Hopkins have been playing basketball against each other for 10 years, and the competition hasn’t always been friendly.

The Columbus natives are about to find out what it’s like to play on the same team. They’re part of a USA All-Star Basketball team that will tour Brazil from Aug. 6 to 12.

“I don’t know her off the court very well,” Hamilton said. “I’ve been playing with her since fifth grade, so I know who she is, but we’ve never been friends. This will help our relationship off the court because it’s never been that great on the court.”

Hamilton played at Columbus North and is now the starting point guard at Manchester. Hopkins played at Columbus East and is a starting shooting guard at Hanover. Both will be juniors.

“I don’t know Jocelyn very well personally, but we have been playing basketball against each other for a very long time,” Hopkins said. “It will be nice because it’s one of those things where you’ve been playing against each other for such a long time. Animosity grows, and I use that term loosely, but it will be really cool to have her as a teammate.”

Hamilton and Hopkins have developed a mutual respect for each other’s games.

“I don’t personally like playing against her because she’s aggressive,” Hamilton said. “She works hard and is intense. I respect her on the floor.”

“We’ve both spent lots of hours outside of the gym. We both work really hard,” Hopkins said. “She plays collegiate basketball, and not many people can do that, so she’s a really good athlete for sure. She seems like a really nice person, and it will be nice to get to play on the same team for a change.”

Hopkins’ college coaches will be coaching the USA squad on the trip. Molly Jones is the head coach, and her husband John is an assistant. Kyle Wilson, who helps out at

Hanover’s camp, will also be an assistant.

The Jones’ daughter, Kelsey, who plays at Hanover, will be on the team.

“They’re all really great, and they’re all going to be there,” Hopkins said. “Being able to play with Jocelyn and my teammate Kelsey and

before my coaches and with other athletes from around the United States, it will be a very cool experience for sure. I’m definitely very, very excited to go.”

Hamilton said Molly Jones recruited her a little in high school.

“They needed another player (for the trip), so she contacted my coach,” Hamilton said. “We play against Hanover in the same conference, so she’s seen me play. I’ve met her before, but I really don’t know her.”

Ron Smith from USA Sports Tours and Events will be taking his 13th team to Brazil. The group will practice Aug. 4 to 5 in Orlando and leave for Brazil on Aug. 5.

The team will play three games Aug. 6, 7 and 8 in Sao Paulo before heading to Rio de Janeiro for a pair of games between Aug. 10 to 12.

“I don’t know why, but ever since I was really young, I’ve wanted to go to Brazil,” Hamilton said. “Now I get to do it, and I get to play basketball. At the time, I didn’t know Hoppy was on the team, but when I found out, I thought that was cool.”

Hopkins was caught off-guard when her coaches asked her to be a part of the trip.

“Definitely, it was a surprise,” Hopkins said. “I had no idea about any of it. They were just talking to me about ‘What are you doing this summer.’ and I said ‘I was staying in Columbus.’ They said ‘Well, we’re coaching a team that’s going to Brazil.’ So we worked on getting a sponsor, and away we went.”

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