KILLARNEY, IRELAND (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) — A former Utica University basketball star will be heading across the Atlantic Ocean to play basketball professionally.

The university announced on Tuesday, October 3 that former Pioneers guard Darius Hopkins has signed a contract to play for the Killarney Cougars of Basketball Ireland’s Division I League. Hopkins also becomes the first Pioneer to turn professional under current head coach Sean Coffey.

“We are thrilled for Darius, as one the best players to ever wear a Utica jersey, to have the opportunity to continue his basketball career professionally,” Coffey said in a statement. “Darius and I had many conversations over the years on how to make this goal achievable. A large part of why Darius attended Utica, coming from Tampa, Florida, and returned as a 5th year player, was that he felt we gave him a strong chance to play beyond his college eligibility. Darius is just the first of more that I look forward to helping play beyond Utica. There will be more that have these goals and the ability to play over there.”

Coffey is familiar with Basketball Ireland; after he finished up his collegiate career at the College of St. Rose, he played for the Limerick Lions in Basketball Ireland’s Super League. He holds the league’s single-game record for three-pointers made.

“It is also a pretty cool full circle moment that our first pro that I’ve coached signed his first contract to play in the same country that I did years ago,” Coffey said. “We wish Darius the best of luck as he starts to build a career in professional basketball. I am very proud of him.”

In five years at Utica, Hopkins placed first all-time in free throws and games played. He also finished fourth in career scoring and three-pointers. As a fifth-year senior, Hopkins helped the Pioneers to just their second NCAA tournament bid ever in 2023, scoring 21 and 30 in their two tournament games. Hopkins averaged over 12 points and 2 rebounds per game in his five years at Utica.

Hopkins was also named to the All-Empire 8 Teams in each of his last four seasons with Utica. He will join the Cougars immediately.

His first game could be as early as Saturday, October 7, when Killarney hosts the Waterford Vikings.