The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team has received a lift in one form or another from freshman Quadir Copeland throughout this season. The 6-foot-6 versatile guard, who doubles as small forward, provides enthusiasm for teammates when he’s on the bench and energy on the court when he gets game time.
Syracuse fans have been quick to notice how animated he’s been from the sideline and they’ve appreciated his contributions and hustle when he gets an opportunity to play.
At times when Jim Boeheim has needed a jolt, he’s turned to the freshman from Philadelphia as the spark plug. Copeland, whose dad was a boxer, has fought hard for Syracuse in short rounds this season. In a comeback effort against Pittsburgh that fell just short, Copeland initiated the run and had ten points, five rebounds, two blocks and a steal in the process.
At Georgia Tech he grabbed six rebounds and had two assists off the bench after Syracuse got off to a slow start, which helped continue a scoring run. He’s worked hard in practice throughout the year. Coaches have pointed out his efforts in the Melo Center.
“He’s been really good in practice,” Jim Boeheim began on Copeland. “He’s been able to get to the basket. His shooting has improved. He’s more active than our other guys. Even though he plays the one, two and the three, right now he can play the three. He’s active there. He rebounds as well as any of our three men do and he has the ability to put it on the floor better than the other guys do.”
While Copeland doesn’t shoot it as well as the other freshmen at the small forward spot, Boeheim mentioned that he might have a role to play against Clemson and Pittsburgh this week because they play physical man-to-man defense. But the head coach sees Copeland’s contributions to the team even when he’s not playing.
“He’s been great. He’s a great teammate,” Boeheim continued. “Even when he didn’t play at all he was up talking to people—in huddles or halftime—talking to his teammates. He understands the game. He really has a good knowledge for the game and he’s encouraging guys to play. That’s great.”
Boeheim also mentioned John Bol Ajak and Symir Torrence as part of a bench contingent that’s played sparingly but has been there to encourage teammates and speak during huddles. Joe Girard noted Copeland’s positivity.
“He’s been a good teammate. He cheers us on, does all those kinds of things. He’s worked pretty hard in practice as well. He’s got a bright future and he’ll help us,” Girard said.
Copeland, he says, just tries to bring energy into the game whenever he gets an opportunity.
“I never know how many times I’m going to get a chance to play. So I just try to bring as much as I can every time I get in the game,” Copeland said.
Copeland has developed a close bond with fellow freshman Judah Mintz throughout the season. Mintz says if you see him around, you’ll probably see Copeland too, who he described as mature.
“Quadir is like a brother to me,” Mintz said.
As one of six freshmen, Boeheim acknowledged the difficulty finding playing time for all of them but thinks Copeland has been great for Syracuse.
“I like what he’s done,” Boeheim voiced. “It’s hard when you have six freshmen to get them all in there. It’s just something that’s not easy to do but he’s been a really good teammate.”
“Everybody has a role,” He stated. “My role is not to go try to score 30 points or try to get ten assists.”
Copeland grew up as one of three kids. His older brother Daiquan plays basketball at Morgan State, who he gives credit for in paving the way for his basketball journey. So perhaps it’s unsurprising that Copeland is able to put the team’s needs before his own.
“Of course I want to be out there more and stuff. But I’m a teammate first. I’m a brother first. I love these guys. If one of us shining and getting all the love, I take it as all of us getting it. You know, I just want to see everybody else succeed at the end of the day and I know my time will come and I gotta be patient,” He said.
Copeland says he’s more concerned about winning basketball games than individual playing time. He’s put himself aside and says being mad or complaining about time won’t get him on the court.
“The season isn’t going the way I want because we’re not winning. That’s really what it is. That’s really the big deal,” Copeland expressed. “If we were winning more, you know, the season would be better for me.”
Copeland hopes next year he gets more of an opportunity to showcase what he can do. Right now the focus is winning as many games as possible in attempt to make a late push for the big dance. That’s all he and his teammates care about, he says. For now, he’s trying to be patient and play within his role.
“It shows a lot about a person when they’re talented enough to be on the floor and they’re not able to and he’s still happy for his teammates,” Mintz finished.