Sometimes, a re-classification proves to be an intelligent idea. In Isaac Copeland's case, a re-class prior to his junior year proved very, very, intelligent. Not only did an injury slow his early development, he simply needed time to mature.
Copeland can be categorized as a late bloomer. Despite the fact that his father, Ike, was a fixture for East Carolina and helped lead the Pirates to the CAA championship in 1993, Isaac didn't carry a great deal of clout within North Carolina early in his career.
But he kept growing both literally and in terms of ability. His first wave of offers included East Carolina, American, Furman, Buffalo, Appalachian State, Charlotte and Winthrop. And after the 2012 summer, the names changed to N.C. State, Boston College, Virginia, West Virginia, Rutgers, Auburn and Virginia Tech, with others such as Duke and UNC expressing interest.
He transferred from Raleigh (N.C.) Ravenscroft to Charlottesville (Va.) Miller for his junior campaign and continued to gain steam. During the season he began to hear seriously from Georgetown and Florida State, to accompany his others suitors, and by early March he was ready to commit. Copeland gave the nod to the Hoyas and surprised many of his other pursuers, due to the timing, but he'd made up his mind and that was that.
This past summer he attended the prestigious NBPA Top 100 Camp and this fall he traveled to Adidas Nations, increasing his national exposure. He presently ranks in the national top 50 and is finishing his prep career at Wolfeboro (N.H.) Brewster Academy.
Copeland epitomizes what it means to be a stretch forward. He's something different from a wing but definitely resides on the perimeter, and effectively so.
By far, his greatest attribute is a smooth jump shot with ample three-point range. He launches threes from all angles and frequently buries them, and in that regard he does resemble wings in the way that he frees himself for open looks. Copeland is more flexible and agile than some of the stretch fours who are more stationary, spot-up shooters, and thus he poses a more daunting challenge to defenders.
Additionally, he's a tremendous two-footed leaper with a running start. He does his best athletic work on tip-dunks and in-bounds passes, and he also utilizes his leap to occasionally haul down impressive traffic rebounds. His passing is a positive attribute, too, and defensively he moves his feet reasonably well to guard on the perimeter.
He also has demonstrated a willingness to play within the team concept, and his mental maturity should enable him to play early and often for the Hoyas.
A lack of strength stands out most, and Copeland should be able to address that over time. The more urgent need is to become more aggressive. He has a tendency to avoid the most violent scrums that manifest each time there's a rebound, and in today's college game there's simply no way to be consistently effective as a forward unless you adopt that same approach.
I also believe he can become an effective post scorer. Any player who's 6-8 and possesses a superior shooting touch should have a turnaround jumper in his arsenal, and right now Copeland doesn't maximize his potential as a post threat.
Meanwhile, he doesn't handle or defend like a wing, and ultimately moving to a full-time wing position doesn't appear likely.
Copeland presently is more of a specialist than he needs to be, because his talent exceeds his production. And even so, he's already fairly productive due to a big-time jump shot. Corralling his inner beast and adding more layers to his game could enable him to leapfrog quite a few peers in our rankings, even if that transformation doesn't occur until long after his class' high school rankings are immaterial.
And he chose a great system for his game. He'll thrive in the Hoyas' space-oriented attack, and he isn't the type of player who needs freelance settings to be successful. He projects as an outstanding scorer in structure, and his contributions will continue to rise as he gains beef and aggression. Of the players ranked in the 40-100 range, he possesses far more NBA potential than most.