After many months and miles, Bradley Central standout Brooke Copeland has made the decision to take her athletic talents to The Sunshine State.
With more than 35 scholarship offers in hand, the 6-foot-2, two-sport all-state performer has chosen to play basketball in the Southeastern Conference for the University of Florida.
“It just seemed like the best fit. I felt that was where the Lord was leading me,” declared Copeland in a phone interview Saturday afternoon. “It felt like home. The girls (Florida players) are really nice. I really like the coach (Amanda Butler) and the style of play.”
“They run a fast-paced style of offense,” she added. “I’ll be playing the (No.) 4 or 3 positions in an offense that runs a lot of ball screens to get open shots.”
In her first three years in the starting lineup for the storied Bradley program, Copeland has netted 1,569 points, placing her 13th on the all-time Bearette list. This past season she averaged a double-double with 19.6 points and 10.1 rebounds an outing, plus she blocked 58 shots and copped 53 steals to earn the District 5-AAA Player of the Year and All-State honors.
During her time in the Black-and-Gold, Bradley has posted an 88-11 record, winning three straight Region 3-AAA championships, plus earning a berth in the TSSAA State Championship Tournament last March.
Ranked as the No. 10 post player in nation (2014 class) by ESPN, Copeland also plays for the Tennessee Nike Flight team out of Murfreesboro, which just won its second consecutive national AAU championship, beating a team out of California for the title. The team will be heading to Las Vegas later this month for another national tournament.
“We are ranked No. 1 in the nation and just won our second straight national title,” she commented. “More than half of the girls on the (Tennessee Sports Writer’s) all-state team are my teammates on the Nike team. Many of them are already committed to places like Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Kentucky.”
Among the numerous offers Copeland considered were a half dozen from SEC schools — Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Auburn and Alabama — as well as ACC schools North Carolina State, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest. A trio of Big 10 schools were also in the mix as Rutgers, Michigan and Indiana all came calling.
“It was a hard decision. There were so many great offers, but when it came down to it, Florida is where I felt the most comfortable,” she explained. “It has been really stressful trying to make this decision, so I’m just really glad to have this pressure off. Now I can play the rest of the summer and this winter care free.”
While several of the teams that drew Copeland’s attention are perennial participants in the NCAA Tournament, Florida has made “The Dance” just twice in coach Butler’s six-year tenure, falling in the second round to eventual champions Baylor in 2012 and Connecticut in 2009.
The Gators played in the WNIT three times in the past six seasons, advancing to the semifinals with four wins in March before succumbing to Drexel for a 22-15 overall record. Coach Butler has posted four 20-win seasons, plus a 19-win season since taking over the Florida helm.
Copeland is continuing a family tradition of collegiate athletes as her dad, Brian, played quarterback at Tennessee Tech, while his brother Brent did the same at UT-Chattanooga.
Her uncle Chad played hoops for Florida State and UTC, while her mom, Kim (Collins), was an all-state basketball and outstanding volleyball player at East Ridge High School.
She and her brother Bryce, who recently signed to play basketball at Lee University, became the first sister-brother combo in Tennessee history to be named to all-state teams in the same sport in the same school year.
Although unable to participate due to other commitments, Copeland was invited to be a part of a USA national 18-under volleyball team that will travel to Australia for a 10-day international tournament this summer.
During the fall high school volleyball season she had 608 kills, 95 blocks, 388 digs and 36 aces to earn Co-District MVP as the Bearettes won 30 matches and came within a win of making the state tournament.