Leesburg, VA (Jan. 21, 2016) – It’s a good time to be Kyle Copeland.
The senior guard recently became the first player in Tuscarora basketball history to surpass the 1,000-point mark for his career, he was nominated for a slot in the prestigious McDonald’s All-American Game, and is leading a Huskies team that is 17-1 and ranked No. 16 in the Washington Post All-Met poll.
Copeland is pacing the Huskies, averaging 20.4 points per game and has knocked down 43 threes. He has scored over 30 points on three occasions this season, including a 38-point outburst against Handley on Dec. 28.
Thanks to that strong performance, Copeland eclipsed the 1,000-point threshold the very next game against Park View on Dec. 29. With plenty of time left in the season, he is simply adding to his record-breaking Tuscarora career.
“It definitely means a lot to me,” Copeland said, “but of course I couldn’t have done it without my teammates around me, the support I have from my family, friends and the community. I’m not a very individual-oriented person, what’s more important to me is playing with my teammates and making a run into the playoffs, and having a chance for the state title.”
The recent success of the 6-foot-4, 170-pound wing player earned him a nomination for the McDonald’s All-American Game, the most noteworthy all-star high school basketball contest in the country. Although he did not make the final roster, which was announced on Jan. 17, it is quite an honor to be nominated. He was one of just 18 players to earn consideration from the state of Virginia, a state with a rich basketball tradition.
Despite not making the all-star game, his Huskies are playing like an all-star team as they have won 16 consecutive games following a 1-1 start, and are the highest ranked Loudoun County team in the Washington Post poll.
“This year it’s helped that we have a lot of seniors, we have nine seniors, a sophomore and a junior,” Copeland said. “Of course I have a leadership role, there’s a couple guys with leadership roles, but we all get along very well and it helps to have that family bond we have this year.”
This is coming just one season after an up-and-down rebuilding year in which they had as many losses as wins.
The versatile guard spent his freshman year on the JV squad before being promoted to varsity as a sophomore. In the last three seasons with the Huskies, Copeland has done nothing but put the ball in the basket.
“It wasn’t until that first year on varsity that I saw my game go the next level,” Copeland said. “From that point on I’ve slowly grown as a player.”
Copeland describes his game as a smooth multipurpose guard and that he is at his best when he is in a good rhythm from behind the three-point arc.
“Usually the games where I’m hitting my shot I feel the best, but even if my threes aren’t falling I try to find other ways to get the ball in the basket or try to find other ways to contribute,” Copeland said.
Although he has taken major strides in his prep career, Copeland sees himself as a late bloomer still growing into his body. He has certainly garnered interest from college coaches, but the high Division I schools latch on the big-name prospects as sophomores and juniors, whereas Copeland’s recruiting process is just really getting underway now as a senior.
“A lot of coaches do their recruiting early and it was kind of hard because I was so far behind all these other players, and I’m now just hitting my stride,” Copeland said. “And I feel like if I had another year to compete on the AAU circuit that it would really open up those doors of opportunity for me at the next level.”
At this point, he has offers from High Point, Mount St. Mary’s and St. Francis as a member of the 2016 class. However, he is considering a post-graduate year to allow his body more time to develop, which would allow him to reclassify to the 2017 class and open up his recruiting to many more suitors that are finished with the 2016 class.
“I’ve had a lot of schools call me and ask me about the prep year and a lot of Ivy League interest, which I am very interested in,” Copeland said.
According to Copeland, the hesitation among college coaches has more to do with his physical size than his ability on the court, making the prep year a viable option. Whereas college basketball players used to sit on the bench for a year or two before being thrown into the lineup, the college game today is dominated by underclassmen who come in ready to play right away.
“I think if I put on the weight and put on the muscle, my recruiting will just skyrocket,” Copeland said.
Whether he decides to head straight to college or take an extra year to develop to expand his recruitment, Copeland will land on a roster and will be a player to watch due to his length, versatility, athleticism and ability to shoot from the wing.
VivaLoudoun: We Live For Loudoun™
Written by Josh Apple
Special to Viva Loudoun