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December 29, 2012

Copeland gains notice in Raleigh

MORE: Torrey Pines Holiday Classic

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Perhaps no player in the 41st annual Holiday Invitational drew more coaches Friday than Crozet (Va.) Miller School re-classed junior forward Isaac Copeland, who was making his homecoming to Raleigh.

The 6-foot-8 Copeland, who is the son of a former East Carolina player, showed his tantalizing potential with 24 points, 13 rebounds and four assists in a 75-61 win over Wilson (N.C.) Greenfield School. Copeland's quickness in going after missed shots led to scoring opportunities, and he consistently made the extra pass that would lead to a made 3-pointer. He even made a step-back jumper from inside the top of the key that few prep players make.

Copeland blocked a shot or got the rebound (or both), started the fast break and went coast-to-coast a few times. He finished 10-for-20 from the field, and most if not all of his shot attempts were quality looks.

Copeland seemed to be at his best at the end of quarters. He went coast-to-coast for a basket to end the first quarter, and he got a dunk off an in-bounds play, then blocked a shot and drove for another basket to end the third quarter.

Copeland, who is essentially playing his first full season of high school basketball, had coaches from NC State, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Duke, Notre Dame and Cincinnati watching at various points this week.

"It's a great feeling and a great honor actually," said Copeland, who might attend the UNC Greensboro-NC State game Tuesday. "It's motivation for me to keep working hard and get more offers."

Copeland, who is in Raleigh until Thursday, has ties to all three Triangle schools. However, Florida State and Georgetown have done a good job of letting him know how much he's wanted.

"I've heard from Cincinnati, Illinois, Wake Forest and a lot of different schools," Copeland said. "Florida State is recruiting me the hardest. I talk to them all the time, and Georgetown as well."

Copeland hopes to play small forward in college and mix in time at power forward if need be.

"Whichever the team needs me to play at, but I Iike to play the three more, but I understand if I play the four as well," Copeland said.

The big five

Three of the five marquee players advanced to Saturday's two title games. DeSoto (Texas) High senior shooting guard Matt Jones, who signed with Duke, will square off against Metuchen (N.J.) St. Joseph junior center Karl Towns, who recently picked Kentucky, in the Summit Hospitality title game at 7:20 p.m. Saturday.

New Hampton (N.H.) School and Indiana-bound Noah Vonleh will battle Raleigh Word of God at 9 p.m. in the Shavlik Randolph title game. Word of God was paced by senior center Tyrek Coger's 23 points in his battle against UNC power forward signee Isaiah Hicks of Oxford (N.C.) Webb. The Holy Rams won 70-57.

Vonleh, Hicks, Jones, Towns and NC State senior point guard signee Anthony Barber, whose Hampton High team lost a defensive struggle to DeSoto, are ranked in the Rivals.com top 35 for their classes.

Hicks, who is ranked No. 14 overall, arguably had the most productive performance Friday, finishing with 16 of his 24 points in the first half, to go with nine rebounds and two blocks. Hicks receives a lot of freedom to play on the perimeter or bring the ball up the court for Webb, and his jump shot was effective against Word of God, although he missed all three 3-point attempts. He's come a long way from his freshman year, when his range consisted of being around the basket.

Barber and Jones have played against each other for years in individual camps and with their Nike-sponsored traveling teams. The two will continue in college with Barber signing with NC State and Jones with Duke. Jones and DeSoto won a grind-it-out affair 46-34 behind his 18 points, but the No. 35-ranked shooting guard shot only 4-for-11 from the field. He drained nine of 10 shots at the free throw line.

"It was great and fun to play against (Barber)," Jones said. "Ultimately, we just wanted to win. I just told (our coach) he was really good, but I had confidence in TK (junior guard Takedrick Brown), and he could lock him down."

Barber sprained his ankle with 6:26 left in the second quarter but didn't miss time. He admitted following the game that it bothered him. The explosive Barber carried Hampton's offense but needed more help against the more-balanced DeSoto squad. The No. 11-ranked Barber scored 19 points but needed 21 shots to get them. His closest teammate had six points.

"It wasn't a big deal, as I played the game and he played the game, and we are both great players," Barber said. "People wanted to see that (matchup), but that wasn't in our game plan. I wasn't caught up in me and Matt. I just played the game."

Vonleh and New Hampton have arguably been the most talented and deepest team in the field. Vonleh, who is ranked No. 7 in the country, played an efficient game with 18 points and five assists in a 68-51 victory over High Point (N.C.) Christian.

Vonleh drained a pair of 3-pointers and went 6-of-11 from the field, but he was credited with only one rebound. Junior power forward teammate Tory Miller carried the offense in the first half and finished with 13 points, while senior point guard Travis Jorgenson was impressive running the show and had 12.

Towns scored 17 points and had seven rebounds in a 58-50 victory over host Raleigh Broughton. Towns was considered the top player in the class of 2015 by some before making the move to 2014 and committing to Kentucky. He has yet to be ranked by Rivals.com in his new class, but he showed flashes of his inside-outside game against Broughton until he ran into foul trouble.

Towns picked up his fourth foul with 3:03 left in the third quarter, and that stymied his momentum after scoring on two strong inside moves. He came back with 3:59 left in the game and his team leading 46-42, and he finished strong with two dunks and an assist down the stretch. Broughton played some zone and always seemed to have a second defender nearby to sag on to him when it played man-to-man.

Title rematch

Kinston (N.C.) High and Waxhaw (N.C.) Cuthbertson battled for the NCHSAA 2A state title last year at historic Reynolds Coliseum on N.C. State's campus in Raleigh. Kinston pulled out the 58-55 win, and while neither team wished to play each other in the losers' bracket Friday, it added spice to the rematch.

Cuthbertson played like a team that finished its overtime loss against Hampton (Va.) High around 11 p.m. Thursday. Kinston took a 38-24 halftime lead, but Cuthbertson and junior point guard Shelton Mitchell took over in the second half. Cuthbertson outscored Kinston 14-0 in the fourth quarter and was sparked by senior forward Isaiah Cureton, who turned the game around with two 3-pointers sandwiched around a blocked shot.

Cureton is getting Division II looks, with a couple of low-major Division I programs perhaps close to offering him. He's a deluxe athlete and had 10 points in the win.

Mitchell, fresh off his 30-point outing against NC State signee Barber on Thursday, followed with 19 points and continued to showcase his strong game going to the basket and impressive passing skills. Mitchell said Arizona and Connecticut are the latest colleges to offer him.

"I talked to (assistant) coach (C.B.) McGrath (of UNC), (Wake Forest) coach (Jeff) Battle, and (UNC head) coach Roy (Williams) last night, and they said they'd come to the game," Mitchell said. "Missouri, South Carolina, Clemson, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and basically the whole ACC."

Dual-sport athlete Denzel Keyes, who also plays football, led Kinston with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Old Dominion and North Carolina A&T have offered him in football, with Wingate, High Point, Charleston Southern and Division II colleges in the mix.


Miller School senior center Tony Washington and junior post player Guiherme Guimaraes complemented Copeland in the post. Neither player did much in the opening loss to High Point Christian on Thursday, but they responded against an undersized Greenfield School squad. However, Miller School coach Scott Willard would like to see Washington pick it up more.

Washington started the game in spectacular fashion with a pair of dunks, two free throws and an assist to teammate Connor Shroeder for a 3-pointer in the first quarter. The eight first-quarter points were his tally for the game.

Willard said Auburn and La Salle are among Washington's 15 offers.

Guimaraes picked up the slack and finished with 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting. He benefited from Copeland's passing and the attention he drew.

Miller School reserve Aram Martin has the Ivy League, Appalachian State, Tulsa and Rice among the 10 schools that have offered. Long-range shooter Travis Hester has picked up offers from Hofstra, Gardner-Webb and Houston Baptist.

Greenfield School has sent Brian Richardson (South Carolina), Jeremy Jeffers (Drake), Sam Hughes (UNC Asheville) and Aaron Rountree (Wake Forest) to Division I programs in recent years.

Junior point guard Xavier Mills shot the ball well and played under control en route to 20 points, and re-classed junior wing Ashley Williams added 12. Senior shooting guard Jordan Sharpe is hearing from Kennesaw State.

Mills has picked up an offer from the Citadel and is getting interest from VCU, Old Dominion, East Carolina and College of Charleston. Williams is listing UNC Greensboro, Marist, Elon and George Mason.

Junior post player Logan McLane suffered a season-ending ACL injury but flashed Division I potential at his previous school, Greenville (N.C.) Oakwood School. Freshman guard Jalen Harris could be another one to watch down the road for Greenfield School.

Jones gets the attention, but teammates Terry Maston, a junior center, junior guard Takedrick Brown and junior forward Devin Wyatt have shown that DeSoto is not a one-man team. Maston, fresh off the big win over Chicago Simeon High, earned his first offer from Houston and said Texas, Texas A&M, Tulsa and UNC Greensboro have showed interest.

Wyatt, listed at 6-foot-7, finished with an astonishing 12 blocks in the win over Hampton, while Brown has knocked in 3-pointers with regularity, finishing 4-for-7 from 3-point land for 12 points.

Apex (N.C.) High junior combo guard T.J. Evans is in search of his first offer but has had Clemson, Virginia Tech, East Carolina, Western Carolina and Campbell, among others, see him play this season.

Raleigh Broughton junior guard Cameron Gottfried, the son of NC State coach Mark Gottfried, has picked up an offer from Loyola (Md.) and interest from Yale and Utah State.

Lehigh signee Shane Whitfield of Raleigh Word of God isn't the only player in his family. Eighth-grade brother Jordan Whitfield, a combo guard, poured in 17 points in the Holy Rams' 70-57 win over Oxford (N.C.) Webb. Jordan Whitfield knocked down three 3-pointers and had two breakaway layups and a 3-pointer to spark Word of God midway through the third quarter.

Junior wing Mitron Terry has emerged from the shadow of Hicks. The energetic, slashing Terry poured in 32 points in the opener and continued his quality play with 21 points and 13 rebounds Friday in the loss to Word of God. Murray State and UNC Wilmington have shown recent interest, but his list of schools will grow.

Gottfried and UNC coach Roy Williams caught some of the action Friday. Duke, Wake Forest, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, Appalachian State, Old Dominion, Radford, Grambling State, UNC Wilmington, UNC Greensboro, Creighton and Boston College were also in the gym this week.



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