Syracuse Basketball: PG Quadir Copeland ‘gives us a different dimension’

Syracuse basketball, Quadir Copeland (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse basketball, Quadir Copeland (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) /
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I’m really intrigued by Syracuse basketball freshman point guard Quadir Copeland, a lengthy and tall player who committed to the Orange in August of 2021 and has a stellar opportunity to shine at the top of the team’s zone defense.

The 6-foot-6 Copeland, who national recruiting analysts and scouts say is fabulous on defense and in his play-making abilities, is expected to have a key role off of the bench in his first year on the Hill, college basketball insider Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports recently said.

Heading into the 2022-23 campaign, which begins on November 7 for the ‘Cuse at home versus Lehigh, the Syracuse basketball roster does possess a handful of guards, so how much playing time Copeland will earn as a freshman remains to be seen.

But I am getting the sense that Quadir Copeland will carve out a solid reserve role in 2022-23. In a recent interview with Rothstein, Orange head coach Jim Boeheim said of Copeland, “He gives us a different dimension.”

As a prep-school senior, Quadir Copeland suited up alongside another Syracuse basketball newbie.

Immediately prior to joining the ‘Cuse, Copeland competed for the post-grad squad at the juggernaut IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. His teammate there was 2022 four-star wing Justin Taylor, who is also a freshman for Syracuse basketball.

Before heading to IMG, Quadir Copeland played well for the Life Center Academy in Burlington, N.J. Earlier in his high-school tenure, Copeland averaged about 22 points per game for Gettysburg Area High School in Gettysburg, Pa.

Rated a four-star, top-100 national prospect in the 2022 cycle by Rivals.com, Copeland picked the Orange over other finalists Maryland, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Miami, Penn State, DePaul and La Salle.

The ‘Cuse backcourt in 2022-23 includes Copeland, possibly Taylor (he’s a shooting guard/small forward), senior Joe Girard III, senior Symir Torrence and another four-star freshman, Judah Mintz.

Mintz is likely to start at point guard, with Girard the starter at shooting guard. Taylor probably will see more time at forward, while Torrence should be a key reserve.

The guard rotation is a little crowded, but as Boeheim said, Copeland brings something different to the equation. The Syracuse basketball head coach said to Rothstein of Copeland, “He’s more like a Josh Pace type except he’s a righty.”

The 6-foot-5 Pace averaged about 12 minutes per game as a freshman and then around 15 minutes per encounter as a sophomore during the 2002-03 stanza, when the Orange won the program’s only national title.

I fondly remember Pace in that 2002-03 term and throughout his ‘Cuse career. He didn’t score a lot of points, but he was a big guard who defended well, grabbed rebounds, collected steals, facilitated for others, and often seemed to find ways to weave in between defenders and get into the lane.

As a senior in 2004-05, Pace would collect almost 11 points per affair, but it was all of the other things he did that made him so valuable on the court for the Orange.

I like this comparison for Copeland. Analysts and scouts have said he is athletic, has good court vision and will be a disruptor at the top of the team’s 2-3 zone, given his length.

I imagine other guys on the 2022-23 roster will score more points and take more shots, but Copeland will have opportunities to create for himself and his teammates.

I’ve also seen comparisons of Copeland to Michael Carter-Williams, a tall guard who didn’t play all that much as a freshman for Syracuse basketball but was excellent as a sophomore, helping lead the Orange to the 2013 Final Four.

Carter-Williams, who wound up as a first-round NBA Draft pick and would be named the NBA’s rookie of the year in 2014, along with Brandon Triche formed a menacing pair at the top of the ‘Cuse 2-3 zone defense in 2012-13.

That team’s stifling defense is, by and large, what enabled the ‘Cuse to journey to the national semifinals in the 2013 Big Dance as a No. 4 seed, with Syracuse basketball suffocating No. 1 seed Indiana and No. 3 seed Marquette along the way.

It may prove challenging for Quadir Copeland to receive more than 10 to 15 minutes per game as a freshman, but if he aligns with the Orange careers of Pace and Carter-Williams, that works for me.

Just remember. Pace won a national championship, and Carter-Williams got to the Final Four.

Next. Syracuse Basketball: Projected starting rotation 2.0 for the 2022-23 season. dark