Exeter, NH (Sept. 30, 2016) – After winning the 2016 Conference 14 Boys Basketball Player of the Year, becoming Tuscarora’s all-time leading scorer, receiving a nomination for the McDonald’s All-American Game, and perhaps being the most highly recruited basketball player in Loudoun County in the 2016 class, Kyle Copeland was still having difficulty finding his next home.
The 6-foot-4 guard and recent Tuscarora graduate wasn’t receiving the onslaught of Division I offers he had hoped for, and decided to undergo a post-graduate year to reclassify as a 2017 athlete.
Soon after making this decision, the Leesburg native received offers from Holy Cross, American and Quinnipiac, showing that he made the right choice.
Copeland, who averaged 20 points per game as a senior with the Huskies, ultimately choose to attend the College of the Holy Cross, located in Worcester, Mass., where he will be starting his collegiate career next fall.
“I got my offer in April from Holy Cross after the Pittsburgh Jam Fest tournament,” Copeland said, “and the coach asked me if I wanted to go there this year or keep my decision to do my post-grad year. And, ultimately, I stuck with it, and wanted to remain as a 2017. I can use it kind of as a redshirt year.”
Sticking firm to his beliefs in a post-grad year, the versatile scoring threat is now attending Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, N.H., where he will have the opportunity to play with other talented athletes for a year while taking classes that will count toward his college degree. However, this does not count as a year of eligibility for collegiate athletics.
He first reported to Exeter in early September and loves the atmosphere thus far.
“Having been here for a couple weeks, I can see how rigorous this place is compared to public schools,” he said. “It’s a lot different, the work ethic people have here is a lot different, you either do your work or you’re left behind.”
At this point in the process, Copeland has no regrets and is already seeing progress in his game thanks to the higher competition level. The strict workout program at Exeter is helping him develop his body while he has been given the opportunity to have the ball in his hands more while on the court, making his skills more well-rounded. Plus, they run a similar system as Holy Cross with a Princeton style offense.
“A big part of my decision was I wanted to be more prepared for the next level, and I wanted to come in to Holy Cross ready to play,” he said. “If I had jumped right into Holy Cross, I would have struggled.”
In addition to the athletic advantage he is gaining, Copeland feels he is gaining an academic edge as well.
“I like the feel and the college style of this place, you’re not being guided through anything, you kind of have to figure it out yourself,” Copeland said. “This place is going to be prepare me academically and athletically.”
According to Copeland, Holy Cross was a no brainer despite the other offers. They are a team on the up after winning the Patriot League Championship in 2016, earning them a spot in the NCAA Tournament and even winning a game. They knocked off Southern by a final of 59-55 in a play-in game before falling to top-seeded Oregon.
He took his first unofficial visit just after committing to the Crusaders in August, and immediately knew he had found his next home.
“When I actually got there, I absolutely loved it, there was no hesitation, it was just a comfortable feel,” Copeland said. “They are headed in the right direction and they want guys to come in and play right away.”
The Crusaders are led by a second-year coach in Bill Carmody, as he was able to lead his squad to their first conference title since 2007 in his first year. Previously at Northwestern and Princeton, he was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year with the Wildcats in 2004.
Copeland just took his official visit to the campus on Sept. 23.
With his future settled and in a great situation at Exeter, Copeland feels his game has been set free of distractions.
“As a player you realize the amount of stress you are going through with college coaches constantly hitting you up and when you play it’s a lot of over-thinking, it’s all mental,” he said, “so now that I committed I feel the weight is lifted off my shoulders.”
Although a post-grad year may not have been Copeland’s dream, he strongly believes his career is headed in the right direction and is excited for the future. His biggest goal is to lead Holy Cross back to the NCAA Tournament each year.
“It’s a feeling that’s hard to explain,” Copeland said, “but I feel like I’m headed down the right path.”
Viva Loudoun: We Live For Loudoun™
Written by Josh Apple
Special to Viva Loudoun
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