"Regardless of where I'm projected, I'm coming back to Tennessee,'' said Hopson, who along with junior teammate Brian Williams submitted paperwork to the NBA draft evaluation committee. "I wasn't ready to make that decision right after the season because, as a team, all we'd been focused on was winning a championship. I hadn't really had time to think about it.''
Hopson, a 6-foot-7 shooting guard, finished second on the team in scoring this season and will be UT's leading returning scorer after averaging 12.2 points per game.
He led the Vols with 52 converted 3-pointers, shooting .333 beyond the arc, and his 36 steals ranked third on the team behind departing seniors Wayne Chism and J.P. Prince.
Hopson admitted he has spent time thinking about the potential go-ahead free throw he missed with 11 seconds remaining in the 70-69 NCAA tournament Elite Eight loss to Michigan State.
"I watched the rest of the tournament knowing we deserved to be in that position in the Final Four,'' Hopson said. "It's definitely in the back of my mind, and it's added motivation that I missed a free throw that could have put us ahead.''
Hopson has sent out occasional tweets on his Twitter account indicating he's trying to look forward and put the difficult loss behind him.
"It's just a matter of playing the cards I've been dealt as best as I can, and that's getting ready for next season,'' Hopson said. "When Tyler (Smith) left the team, my game took a step up. But I don't feel I've scratched the surface of what I can do. I know the fans see that, too.''
Hopson said the NBA paperwork is a formality that will give him feedback on what he needs to do to be prepared to "that that next step.''
The area Hopson is focusing on most in the ongoing individual workouts is driving into traffic. He was stripped on more than one occasion last season, finishing with more turnovers (78) than assists (46).
"I think that was a little bit of my inexperience taking it to multiple defenders, and getting through the second and third contact,'' Hopson said. "But that (Michigan State) game ... there were 11 seconds left, the game was tied ... it's difficult knowing it was in my hands.''
Hopson, who shot 59 percent from the free-throw line last season, hit his first free throw to tie the game at 69-69 but missed the second and the Spartans converted a free throw with 1.8 seconds left to win the game.