Cabarrus

Junior emerges as Wonders' go-to player

Derrick Copeland is so committed to his shooting touch, even on his days off, that he was in the middle of a shooting session when he was called to do the interview for this story.

Four hundred shots and a couple ball handling drills later, at the YMCA with his father, Derrick, Sr., the younger Copeland talked about what he does best.

"I'm always trying to work on my game and my shot," Copeland said, noting he couldn't do it without his dad and his mom, Tara, who often rebound for him.

Brown basketball coach Shelwyn Klutz can attest to Copeland's shooting obsession.

"He's definitely a gym rat," Klutz said, who has seen a lot in 15 years and more than 200 wins as the Wonders' head coach. "Even on his days off, or sometimes before or after practice, he is calling me to try and get in the gym. All that hard work is paying off for him."

Copeland, 16, was a role player last year as a sophomore, averaging nine points per game as one of the first guys off the bench.

Copeland said he worked as hard as he ever has over the summer attending camps at Virginia Commonwealth, Davidson and Pfeiffer while also playing AAU basketball for the Charlotte Jets.

This year, the 6-foot, 160-pound guard, has doubled his output for the Wonders, scoring 18 points per game while shooting 42 percent from beyond the arc - making 54 three-pointers through the Wonders' first 15 games.

Copeland credits a lot of his success on the basketball court to the advice from former Wonder Teven Jones, who is now at the University of Virginia.

"Teven Jones has been a big inspiration to me," Copeland said. "We've always had a good relationship and I still talk to him about three times a week to get advice on everything from basketball to everyday things."

Copeland had a lot on his shoulders when the Wonders' season started as the injury bug combined with several players' commitment to football, left the team with many question marks.

Copeland provided many of the early answers, scoring 21 points in an overtime win over Carson, 22 in a win over South Rowan and going on to tally 68 points in three games (including 33 against Hough) in three days at the CMC Northeast Holiday Basketball Classic to earn most valuable player honors as the Wonders won the event.

Copeland has emerged as the go-to guy, another in a long line of Wonder scorers.

"We've been blessed to have a lot of great guards and shooters over the years and Derrick fits right into that group," Klutz said. "But I'm still waiting on that dominant, 6-foot-9 center."

Copeland already has some interest from Gardner-Webb and also lists Richmond, Virginia, Virginia Tech, William & Mary and Wingate among his interests early in the recruiting process.

For now, Brown's immediate focus is to finish the season strong.

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