Q&A with Mike Copeland

GREENSBORO, N.C. --- With the news spreading that Michael Copeland is on the verge of becoming a Tar Heel, the local TV and print media crowded around the 6-7, 235-pound Winston-Salem senior after Monday night's East-West All-Star Game at the Greensboro Coliseum. After posting 13 points (6-10 FG, 1-2 3pt, 0-3 FT) and three rebounds in 18 minutes of action off the bench, Copeland answered questions from reporters …

Your thoughts on the intensity of play tonight?

Yeah, it was a real shock the way the game came out with intensity, and we've been going back and forth [in practices] the whole weekend. It was a good game.

The game was close until you and Kevin Swinton played together in the fourth quarter …

That's my first time playing with him. They didn't have anybody to guard us and that was the difference.

You didn't get many touches in the first quarter and looked frustrated, but then the ball started coming your way in the second quarter …

They just didn't go to me. Me and Swinton had talked about it, how we should dominate the paint with him on first team and me on second, but it didn't work out that way at first, but after a while they put us on the floor together and we came through with the win.

How do you think you played tonight?

I played all right. I feel like I could have played harder, better, but we still won, so that's all that matters.

Where's your college decision process at right now?

Carolina – all the way.

Is it definite?

I've got to take two summer school classes, and I'm about done with one of them now, so I'll probably be done in mid August.

What has coach Roy Williams said?

He's waiting on me, everybody is waiting on me. We've got the scholarship on the table and everybody is just waiting on me.

What do you think your role will be at UNC?

A big body coming in with a lot of playing time [availabe] … it's on me, to come in, play hard and give it all I've got and I'm real confident.

What two classes do you have left?

I'm taking English II-A and World History.

Is there extra pressure with a Carolina scholarship on the line?

Not really, I'm going to get it done – I've about got it done now.

By ‘get it done' do you mean you just need to pass or get a good grade?

I need a good grade. At least an A and a B.

At what point did Carolina get involved and what options did you have before then?

Before then I had some good schools, but I didn't want to go to them because they were real far [away]. I had Utah, LaSalle, South Carolina came at the end, so did Georgia. Western Carolina, VCU, mid-majors. Then at the end of the year, Carolina came and watched me play.

When did Carolina come to watch you?

Late in the year, Roy Williams and Coach [Joe] Holladay came and watched me play.

Was that before the Carolina players turned pro?

Yeah …

Did he tell you he had a sense you could be needed?

He told me I could come in and play.

What was it like when Roy Williams first came?

Well, Coach [Steve] Robinson came first to see me play in an open gym and he thought I was a good player. He said they had had someone watching me during the season and they thought I was real good, so when all the guys left Coach Robinson, Coach Williams and Coach Holladay all came for an open gym and they were real up on me and how I played so they put a scholarship on the table.

What was your reaction when you found out that North Carolina was interested?

It was a dream come true. That's my dream school. My grandma, she's a big Tar Heel fan and grew me up on the Tar Heels.

Talk a little about your game, you seemed to excel most scoring around the basket … talk about your strengths and weaknesses …

My weakness is footwork, but it's getting better, I've been working on my feet a lot. The best thing I do is probably face-up to the goal, face-up and score. I can drive, they put big guys on me and I get right past them.

After playing with a guy like Swinton in practice, he's going to be a good ACC player but he's only 220 pounds … there are guys a lot bigger than him in the ACC …

Yeah, I know, you've got Big E, Shelden Williams – there are some big-time players in the ACC and it's going to be hard. But I see us doing good things, we'll just get in there and work hard – they're working hard now, I wish I was down there with them.

You've had a chance to play some pickup games with your future teammates …

Yeah, I've been playing with them every week, like twice a week. It's been real fun, everybody's not there, but the guys that are there are going head-to-head.

Who has impressed you that you've played against?

Reyshawn Terry, man. I think this is going to be his year … I haven't played with him, he went to the same high school as me, but when I got here two years ago, he had left. I had never seen him play, but when I go down there now – he goes at it, nobody is stopping him.

What big guys are you battling?

Tyler Hansbrough, Byron Sanders and David Noel, but he's playing some perimeter.

How have you fared against them?

I just play my game like I know how to play, back and forth.

So you've had some success against them?

Yeah, oh yeah, I can compete on the ACC [level].

Talk about playing against Hansbrough …

Tyler, he's a mule. He's tough, he goes at it. He works hard, he's tough and I think he's going to be a big-time ACC player.

What about the other freshmen?

Danny Green, he's looking great. Marcus [Ginyard], Bobby [Frasor], they're all looking great, trying to get in tip-top shape. They're real competitive so I think we're going to be all right.

Is stamina something you need to improve on?

Stamina, yeah, that's one of my weaknesses and I've got to tone up. I feel like when I get down there they're going to take care of that.

You're talking like you're already going to UNC …

I'm real confident about the classes because I know I'll get it done.

How was it before the end-of-the-year interest began? Was it just because schools didn't know about you?

That's what I think, that nobody really knew about it, me coming from Alabama playing my freshman and sophomore years down there. Me coming here last year, I didn't play that much, but my senior year I really sparked a lot of interest and word got out there. … Utah has been on me my whole senior year, South Carolina and Georgia came in at the end of the year about the same time North Carolina came in. North Carolina, that's just my No. 1. I've always wanted to go there – that's just where I want to go.

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