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Copeland chooses Ball State

Everyone in and around King’s Fork’s boys basketball team for the past few years figured Jay Copeland would have the opportunity to play college basketball.

It took a little while for everything to fall into place for the 6-foot-7 Bulldog power forward, but with signing a National Letter of Intent and accepting a scholarship from Ball State University on Monday, Copeland’s confident he’s found the perfect school to continue as a student and an athlete.

During his official visit to Ball State, in Muncie, Ind., two weeks ago, everything lined up the right way.

“First of all, I prayed about it for a long time. I asked God to put me in the right place,” Copeland said.

“To be wanted by such a good program is great. There was a welcome feeling from everyone at the school. They made me feel they really wanted me there,” Copeland said.

Copeland’s role on the Cardinal basketball squad even seemed to become obvious as the recruiting process moved along. Ball State’s starting power forward is graduating and “I was told I have the same body, the same size and similar features on the court,” Copeland said.

Copeland was a key part of the Bulldogs’ state championship team in 2008-09 and the Bulldogs didn’t lose a district game, in the regular season or tournament, in Copeland’s junior or senior season.

“It just means a great deal for this program,” said King’s Fork head coach Joshua Worrell, “it’s not just a one-year occurrence to see kids working hard to accomplish goals they have, and that’s in the classroom and on the basketball court, because without both, this doesn’t happen.”

“A big burden’s been lifted. Everything’s just seemed to work out. My grades have gone up tremendously and basketball there is going to be a good fit,” Copeland said. “Everyone here supporting me has been great. Everything’s just as perfect, as good, as it can get.”

He’s even going to a school and a state where basketball’s king.

“As soon as we landed in Indy (Indianapolis), there were people asking me if I was Ball State’s new recruit,” Copeland said.

“Jay comes from a wonderful and involved family structure and his parents were very supportive through the recruiting process,” said Ball State head coach Billy Taylor.

Taylor’s entering his fourth season with the Cardinals. Ball St. was 15-15 last season. The last time Ball St., from the Mid-American Conference, reached the NCAA Tournament was 2000.

“On the court, Jay is an aggressive, athletic and physical post player. He has been an effective scorer in the painted area with his quickness and also has a nice shooting touch from the perimeter,” Taylor said.

“Ball State’s getting a good student-athlete, a very good character kid,” Worrell said. “Jay’s a ‘yes sir, no sir’ kid. He’s very respectful. He’s going to be a big asset to their program.”

“This shows you don’t always have to be the star athlete as a freshman or sophomore,” Worrell said, while saying at the same time, Copeland was a leader on the team as early as his sophomore season, KF’s first year reaching the state tournament.

“There was a lot of pressure on him as a sophomore, and I think that led to him understanding how much harder he’d have to work to get where he is now,” Worrell said.

During his senior season with King’s Fork, Copeland averaged 13 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks per game. Copeland was second team All-Eastern Region and first team All-Southeastern District.