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Syracuse men’s basketball: Quadir Copeland’s breakout was only a matter of time

Bringing the juice off the bench

Niagara v Syracuse Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images

For most Syracuse Orange men’s basketball fans, Quadir Copeland’s emergence as a dominant sixth man has been a pleasant surprise. But for those who’ve followed Copeland all along, his breaking-out party was just a matter of time.

Through 14 games, the guard is averaging 8.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists per contest, all career-bests. He’s also shot 50% from the field and added over a steal per game.

The sophomore first made a name for himself in the nation’s capital, providing an at-the-time career-high 14 points off the bench in Syracuse’s win over rival Georgetown. With Judah Mintz on the bench in foul trouble throughout the second half, Copeland filled the void seamlessly with a fresh dose of hustle and tenacity. Along with Maliq Brown, the pair combined for 22 points and nine rebounds to keep the Hoyas’ starting five in check.

“[Copeland’s] active, he can move his feet, he’s got long arms. He’s naturally aggressive,” head coach Adrian Autry said after SU’s win over Georgetown. “Quadir just continues to get better and understands what he needs to do.”

For Copeland, this is just the next step in what has become a successful basketball career. The Philadelphia native caught the eyes of college recruiters during his time at Gettysburg High School and Life Center Academy in New Jersey. While playing for the latter in the 2020-2021 season, the guard averaged over two steals a game with a 16.5/5.0/4.8 stat line.

Copeland committed to the Orange in August 2021 before completing his final scholastic year at IMG Academy. He peaked at #85 in the 2022 recruiting class, according to rivals.com.

But in his first year at Syracuse, the four-star recruit took a major backseat in Jim Boeheim’s offense. The backcourt was extremely crowded, and the duo of Symir Torrence and Copeland’s ex-IMG teammate, Justin Taylor, did the bulk of the playing time off the bench. Copeland finished 10th on the team in total minutes and was ineffective in his short time on the court, converting only 34% of shots from the floor.

With Torrence gone and Chance Westry injured this season, many questions surrounded where SU’s bench production would come from besides Brown. Benny Williams’ initial suspension only made matters more complicated. So far, Copeland has acted as the catalyst.

His latest act of heroics came after a 22-point outburst in Syracuse’s win over Pittsburgh last week. His wizard-like abilities even had the TNIIAM staff comparing him to one of the greatest Orangemen ever: Troy Nunes himself.

While his elite finishing ability around the basket stands out most, I’d be remiss not to mention how active the sophomore is on the glass. The guard is only three rebounds behind Brown for the team lead despite having played 48 fewer minutes.

We’ve only seen a glimpse of Copeland, but it’s hard not to be excited by his upside. The sophomore will play a pivotal role in SU’s success this season and beyond.


What has impressed you the most about Copeland so far?