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Erik Copes, a potential differece-maker this season?

George Mason Basketball: Erik Copes, a potential differece-maker this season?

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Erik Copes, a potential differece-maker this season?

We recently talked about how much impact Johnny Williams' return this season could be for the green and gold but what about sophomore Erik Copes? He didn't wow anyone with his offense but he showed flashes of dominance with his shot-blocking and rebound awareness.'s Rob Dauster has a list of "potential difference-makers" and mentions Copes:
"Erik Copes, George Mason: The Patriots are coming off of a 24-9 season that saw them finish third in the Colonial while riding the coattails of Player of the Year Ryan Pearson. But with Pearson, and his frontcourt counterpart Mike Morrison, graduating, Mason's strength will shift to the backcourt, where a handful of young and talented players return. The frontcourt will now feature seldom-used reserves Jonathan Arledge, Johnny Williams and Seton Hall transfer Anali Okoloji, but the guy that Paul Hewitt will be counting on to anchor his lineup will be sophomore Erik Copes. Copes was a top 75 recruit who followed his uncle, Roland Houston, to Mason. And while he had a decent freshman season -- he averaged 3.3 points, 3.7 boards and an astounding 1.9 blocks in just 15 minutes -- Copes was banged up for much of the year. If he's healthy next season, the Patriots will be looking to him not only to protect the paint at the defensive end of the floor, but to become an offensive weapon on the interior to help keep defenses honest."
Copes being hobbled all last season with a nagging injury in his hip didn't help his development. He had surgery in May and is apparently good to go

Offensively, Copes' game could use some post-moves but as Dauster mentions, they have other options in the front court next season for scoring. And yes, those other options either didn't play last season or didn't see many minutes but they will get the opportunity. Jonathan Arledge seems to have the most upside in that group and his development could be big for Mason this year. Copes on the other hand, just needs to be a defensive force in the middle and protect the basket. He'll get his points around the basket on tip-ins and clean up duty but make no mistake, Paul Hewitt will be counting on Johnny Williams for front court scoring. Getting scoring from Copes will only make the Patriots more dangerous and harder to gameplan against, so hopefully we will some some flashes of it. Much different from this past season where teams mostly could focus on Ryan Pearson and greatly slowdown the Patriots' offense. 

Ryan Pearson and Mike Morrison graduating opens the door for Copes' development next season and the potential is there for him to make a big impact. It's a deeper team this season, in the front and back court and it will interesting to see how Hewitt manages the roster. However, Copes will be a mainstay in the lineup this season. 

[Photo by John Powell]


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