Jacey Zembal Special to Rivals.com Basketball Recruiting
Crozet (Va.) Miller School reclassified junior combo forward Isaac Copeland showed off the improved version of his inside-outside game Dec. 26-29 at the Holiday Invitational in his hometown of Raleigh, N.C.
"That was a great feeling and a great honor actually," Copeland said. "It really serves as motivation for me to keep working hard and get more offers."
Copeland's father, Isaac Sr., played basketball at East Carolina, and his mother, Sonya Harris, was a cheerleader at UNC, but works at N.C. State. His stepfather, Greg Harris, played linebacker at N.C. State in the mid-1980s. However, Isaac Copeland actually grew up a Duke fan.
Copeland made back-to-back unofficial visits to N.C. State on June 27 and June 30, and the latter was when he earned his Wolfpack scholarship. He has yet to attend a N.C. State game at PNC Arena.
"I've watched a little bit [of N.C. State], but not as much as I've wanted to," Copeland said. "[Junior forward] C.J. Leslie is very athletic and I think I'm athletic myself. I could see myself doing a lot of the same things he does. He likes to work the high post and spin move, which I like. I talked to them more when I come home.
"When I'm away at school, they talk every once in a while."
Copeland has been popular with Triangle colleges, but also gaining steam with a wide collection of colleges.
"I've watched them [the Hoyas] the most and their coaches have sat me down and showed me tape on them over the years. I feel I have the best feel for them."
The 6-foot-9, 205-pound Copeland missed his original sophomore year at Raleigh Ravenscroft due to injury, and then didn't play much last year. He started to blossom while playing with Garner Road this past spring and summer and vaulted on to the national scene.
Copeland has talked to his family about moving back into 2013 if the right situation came along, but feels good about his move to 2014.
"It's given me time to improve my game and not kind of rush and get scholarships, and stuff like that," Copeland said. "I just want to relax, have fun and see what happens. A lot of schools have put that offer on the table [for 2013], but I probably won't do it.
"I'm definitely starting to think about [officially] visiting some schools this spring, so that's a big plus. The texting gets a little overwhelming, but at the same time, it's a great honor and I enjoy it."
Copeland had amassed a good list of offers, but Virginia and then N.C. State were the first two from power conferences. West Virginia and Boston College later joined the fray.
Some colleges like Copeland as a power forward, and others at small forward.
"Both, whichever team that needs me to play at," Copeland said. "I like to play the three more, but I understand if I play the four, and I enjoy that as well."
Copeland watched more than he played with Ravenscroft at the 2011 Holiday Invitational. Having a chance to return with Miller School was like crossing off another thing on his prep sports bucket list.
"I always dreamed of playing out there on the court and have everybody out there watching me play," Copeland said. "It's just a great feeling."
The Miller School featured Kansas freshman wing Andrew White last year. Memphis sophomore center Hippolyte Tsafack and former Maryland wing Mychal Parker also recently played there.
Copeland has become the new go-to guy and averaged 16 field-goal attempts per game during the Holiday Invitational.
"It's a brand new role for me," Copeland said. "Previously, on every single team I played on, I was on a loaded team, big-time guys. I'm still getting used to it, but I enjoy it. I can do whatever I want somewhat, but I'm still getting used to it."
Copeland's rapid rise to the No. 45 spot in the Rivals.com rankings also put pressure on him to play well. Miller School fell 59-50 to High Point (N.C.) Christian on Dec. 27, but rebounded to win the next two games against Wilson (N.C.) Greenfield School and Apex (N.C.) High.
Copeland proved remarkably consistent, averaging 20 points, 12 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in the tourney. Copeland also was credited with seven total assists for the tourney in his quest to be a well-rounded weapon.
"I wanted to prove to everybody that I've gotten a lot better, so I took a lot of bad shots and made a lot of mistakes," Copeland said. "I was a lot more relaxed and ready to play and have fun.
"I'm getting better and better at going to the basket. Over the summer, I was more of a spot-up shooter and stuff. I want to prove that I can get to the basket. I can do a lot of different things."
Copeland said he usually finishes strong in games, which was evidence in having some strong second halves at the Holiday Invitational.
"I'm usually a better second half player generally because after the first half, I get to really evaluate and see what they are doing on defense. I just have a better mindset coming out in the second half, and attack better. It works pretty much better time."