Things are moving along fast, but just fine for 6-foot-9 rising senior Isaac Copeland, who recently decided to transfer from Crozet’s Miller School after one year as a member of the Mavericks.
Copeland, a Raleigh, N.C., native who is ranked among the nation's best forwards in the Class of 2014, is back in the area for a short stay this weekend to participate in the 20th annual National Basketball Players Association Top 100 Camp, which is being held again this year at the John Paul Jones Arena.
The camp highlights many of the nation’s top talent from each nook and cranny for a week of developing talent and skills both on and off the court.
Copeland admitted that the departure of former MSA head coach Scott Willard played a key role in his decision to transfer to Wolfeboro, New Hampshire’s Brewster Academy, alma mater of current University of Michigan second-year standout Mitch McGary, who shined at Top 100 Camp in 2011 at JPJA. Thomas Robinson, a former Kansas star and NBA lottery pick now with the Houston Rockets, also attended Brewster, as did current Syracuse forward C.J. Fair.
“Coach Willard leaving made me re-think things… I think I needed to go somewhere else and get more prepared for Georgetown,” Copeland said.
The move up north comes in time for one last solid year of preparation before Copeland heads off to Georgetown University in the fall of 2014, where he verbally committed in March.
For now, Copeland – who was celebrating his 18th birthday on Thursday at the camp – is planning to absorb as much valuable training while spending an extra weekend in Central Virginia.
“It’s great, it’s a great way to prepare for the next level,” Copeland said. “In college, everybody’s going to be good and everybody out here is good, so it’s a great way to get ready.”
One of Copeland’s camp team coaches this week is 2012 USA Olympian and current Denver Nuggets star Andre Igoudala. Copeland is eager to take in everything he possibly can during this rare but tremendous opportunity.
“Coming in, when I saw [Igoudala] standing on the sideline, I was just hoping he’d be my coach and I’m lucky to have him,” Copeland said. “He’s teaching me a lot, and I’m going to try to soak up as much knowledge from him as I can.”
With several quality big men at this year’s camp, Copeland is hoping to embrace the level of competition that he’s going up against over the next few days and add it to what he’s learned during his time at Miller before heading to Brewster in September.
“The level here is really high,” he said. “It’s basically taking the top players from each company – Nike, EYBL, Adidas – and just throwing them all into one camp and putting them on the same team, so it doesn’t get much better than this.”
In 22 games this past season with the Mavericks, Copeland led the team with 14.7 points a game to go along with 8.2 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per contest. He knows that there is a lot of history to live up to in the future as a Hoya, but that his stint at Miller helped put him in the position to do so, as well as prepare him for such marquee events until then.
“At Miller, I really built my confidence up and got more prepared for events like this, so definitely, Miller helped me out a lot for this type of camp,” Copeland said.
Copeland added that a recent shake-up of Hoyas assistant coaches (Kenya Hunter left for Nebraska; Mike Brennan will be replacing former Virginia coach – and new Old Dominion coach – Jeff Jones at American) did not affect his choice, and he will remain committed to John Thompson III and his new staff.
Copeland went on to explain that his father Ike Copeland, who played his college ball at East Carolina, went through a couple of coaching changes during his own career and has been helpful throughout all the parts shuffling around his son of late.
Thompson himself recently reached out to Copeland, who will be visiting the Georgetown campus again next weekend, to make sure he was still in the mix as Georgetown prepares to begin life in the new-look Big East. According to Copeland, Thompson told him: "I’m still going to be there, I want to make sure you’re still on board and we can still do good things."
For his upcoming senior year at Brewster, Copeland will be joined by another top big man, Syracuse commitment Chris McCullough (ranked in the top 20 by many in the Class of 2014). He is excited about such an opportunity to close out his already successful high school career that includes a 2011 state title from Ravenscroft in Raleigh prior to coming to Miller.
“[There will be] a lot of hype around us," Copeland said. "We’re two long, athletic guys, pretty similar but different at the same time. I think we can do a lot of things together, so I’m looking forward to it.”