LINCOLN — Isaac Copeland is traveling 1,200 miles to play basketball at Nebraska, but he won’t lack for friendly faces when he arrives on campus.
The 6-foot-9 forward — a five-star pick of Rivals.com who was ranked No. 16 in ESPN’s Top 100 in the Class of 2014 — was recruited to play at Georgetown by current Husker assistant Kenya Hunter.
When Copeland decided a month ago to transfer, old friends reconnected.
“We’ve had a relationship since way back when I was in high school,” Copeland told The World-Herald on Monday. “When coach Hunter knew I was leaving, he was one of the first people to call my parents.”
Copeland also is a good friend of current Husker Anton Gill, a Louisville transfer who is out for the season with a knee injury. Both are from Raleigh, North Carolina.
“We played in high school together,” Copeland said. “And our dads played in college together at East Carolina.”
Copeland becomes the highest-ranked player at Nebraska according to recruiting services, which became prevalent in the early 2000s. He is the ninth current Husker on scholarship who was ranked on a national Top 150 list out of high school.
How soon Copeland will be eligible to play at Nebraska is in limbo.
At a minimum, he would have 1½ seasons left starting at the end of the first semester of next season. But hardship and medical waivers will be filed because he has been playing with a back injury that will require surgery.
“I will get that scheduled once I get to campus,” he said. “It will be like a month or two to recover from that. It’s not something that will put me out for a long time.”
Nebraska is expected to ask that this season serve as a redshirt/transfer year for Copeland, which would allow him to play two full years starting next season.
He played in just seven games this season, starting five. He averaged 5.4 points and 3.3 rebounds. His best game was 13 points, 13 rebounds and two assists in a one-point loss to Maryland.
Copeland played in 33 games as a freshman at Georgetown and started the final 10, averaging 6.8 points and 3.8 rebounds. He made the Big East All-Rookie team. As a sophomore, he averaged 11.1 points and 5.4 rebounds.
This season, the back injury and the arrival of new players at his position led to decreased playing time.
Copeland drew interest from Kansas and Texas upon announcing he would transfer. His only other visit was to North Carolina State, in his hometown.
“It was hard to say no to going home,” he said. “But I had to do what was best for me. I thought Nebraska had the edge. The facilities they have out there you don’t see too many places.”
Copeland was in Lincoln for Nebraska’s 93-90 double-overtime victory over Iowa and was joined by family the next day.
“Crazy facilities, crazy fan base,” Copeland said. “There were just a lot of things I like about Nebraska.”
His commitment and the November signing of 6-6 wing Nana Akenten of Bolingbrook, Illinois, put Nebraska at the maximum of 13 scholarships for 2017-18. But roster movement at the end of a season has become commonplace in college basketball.