Derrick Copeland has stood out for A.L. Brown with his sharp shooting.But the senior, who shot 42 percent from 3-point range last year, hopes to show that he’s much more than a long-distance threat.Copeland will look to get to the lane more often, and to distribute the ball more efficiently, in order to have his Wonders in contention for a South Piedmont Conference title and more.Copeland was a role player who came off the bench for Kannapolis as a sophomore. But he had to step up last year to become one of the team’s go-to scorers after Teven Jones graduated (now at Virginia).“I wasn’t expecting it to happen so quickly,” Copeland admits. “We lacked scoring, and I felt that it was my duty to try to help this team do that.”Copeland said that growing up, shooting was all he knew.“Since I was 4 years old until last year, that’s all I did,” he said.A.L. Brown coach Shelwyn Klutz said Copeland quickly realized that it would take more than his shooting to help him team. Klutz said the 6-foot, 160-pound guard hit the gym trying to develop more skills.“He’s a gym rat,” Klutz said. “Basketball is something that he loves to do, so he works hard at it. And his improvement shows that.”Copeland averaged nearly 16 points a game last year for a Wonder team that finished third in the South Piedmont Conference standings behind rival Concord and Jay M. Robinson. He earned all-conference honors and was the most valuable player at the CMC-Northeast Christmas Tournament at Cox Mill.Copeland’s play was key for Kannapolis while dealing with injuries early in the season.“He held us together offensively,” said Klutz.“In the first part of the season, he played really well, kept us in a lot of games.”Kannapolis lost in the first round of the 3A playoffs, in a 81-55 game against Harding. Copeland said he and his teammates used that as motivation.“That hurt us pretty bad,” said Copeland. “We expected to go a lot further than we did.”Copeland spent his summer working on his defense.“I want to guard people full-court,” said Copeland, who played summer ball with his Charlotte Jets AAU team.“The more I can pressure other teams, the more opportunities we’ll have on the offensive end – and have a better chance of winning.”His coach said that it’s nice to see that.“He’s taking a bit more pride in stopping people,” said Klutz. “And that’s something that he’s going to have to do consistently for us to be good.”Copeland said the team’s chemistry, especially between its seniors, should provide a spark for the team.“We’ve played together for so long,” said Copeland. “We know what everybody can do, our strengths and where people are going to be on the court. If we play as one, no one can stop us.”Kannapolis returns all five starters, who are all seniors.Aside from Copeland, All-SPC forward Tevin Stark should also be key in the team’s success. Braxton Waddell, Mike Carr and Keeon Johnson also return to solidify the lineup. Hickory Ridge 6-foot-6 transfer Tydus Parks should also help the team at forward.Klutz knows the seniors’ chemistry will be key in challenging defending SPC champ Concord, which is coming off a trip to the 3A state semifinal and only lost one starter.“I think we have the experience, the leadership, the talent to do it,” said Klutz. “I think it all comes down to staying healthy and playing together.”
Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012
A.L. Brown’s guard looks to be an all-around threat
A.L. Brown’s Derrick Copeland leads a senior-loaded team
An improved Derrick Copeland returns to lead A.L. Brown after earning All-South Piedmont Conference honors last year. The senior sharpshooter averaged almost 16 points per game last year.
Players to watch • Darren Black, Concord • Connor Burchfield, Concord • Derrick Copeland, A.L. Brown • Dey’Quan Heath, Central Cabarrus • Tevin Stark, A.L. Brown • Trey Swaringen, Mount Pleasant • Andrew Wheet, Northwest Cabarrus