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Hoop Group Elite 2: July 14 Notebook

07/15/2016, 1:00am EDT
By CoBL Staff

Ari Rosenfeld (@realA_rosenfeld)
Varun Kumar (@vrkumar8)
Jeff Griffith (@Jeff_Griffith21)

READING, Pa.--Hoop Group Elite 2 rolled on Thursday afternoon at Albright College, in concurrence with the first full day of the second July live recruiting period.

Here’s a recruiting notebook from the third day of action:

Kyle Copeland (2017/Exeter Academy, N.H.)
A familiar prospect from last year’s Hoop Group Elite sessions, Kyle Copeland was back in Reading again this year.

But this time, he had a new high school and a new graduating class attached to his name.

After graduating from Tuscarora High School in Leesburg, Virginia, Copeland has decided to take a post-graduate year at the prestigious Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.

“The schools that were recruiting me, they were great schools, but it just wasn’t the right fit for me,” Copeland said. “So I wanted to take another year to advance my game, get better and get strong. The school I’m attending...I think it’ll do wonders for me. I feel like now as a player I’m just hitting my stride.”

At the time of his decision, the 6-foot-4 guard had Division I offers from High Point and Mount St. Mary’s. However, his recruitment has picked up since reclassifying, as he now holds offers from American, Quinnipiac, Holy Cross, and Stetson.

In addition, Copeland mentioned that “the whole Ivy League” is looking at him, citing Columbia, Penn, Dartmouth, Brown, and Yale as those he’s hearing from the most.

“I’m not sure what I want to do yet, I’m just looking for the right fit, but I’m definitely very interested in the Ivy League,” Copeland said. “I’m literally a point below the academic inex, so once I get my new SAT score back and that goes up, I think I’ll start bringing in the [Ivy] offers.”

The allure of the nation’s most elite academic institutions is obviously very alluring to Copeland. He’s recently visited Columbia and Cornell, and mentioned a desire to get to Brown and Yale’s campuses soon as well as make a return trip to Columbia for an official visit.

In fact, while picking his prep destination, Copeland had his potential college plans in mind--not just on the court, but in the classroom.

“The reason I chose Exeter was because of how prestigious it was academically,” he said. “I wanted to challenge myself and especially if I was to end up at an Ivy League school I wanted to be prepared as best as possible.” -- Ari Rosenfeld


Emmanuel Umoffia (2018/Undecided HS)
Last fall, Emmanuel Umoffia finally seemed to be settling into life in the United States

The enormous 7-foot-2 center was coming off a strong performance at Hoop Group’s Future All-American camp and had picked up his first four offers in Ole Miss, St. Bonaventure, Providence and Iona. His first year at Putnam Science Academy got off to a strong start as he showcased his terrific rim-protection ability while playing alongside talented teammates Hamidou Diallo and Mamadou Diarra.

But all the momentum he had built in just over a year since moving from Nigeria came to a halt when he was accidentally injured by an opposing player while playing for PSA.

“I was making a post move and someone stepped on my foot,” he said on Thursday at Hoop Group’s Elite Camp. “It shifted my entire kneecap actually.”

Umoffia’s road to recovery hasn’t been so simple. He delayed having surgery by four months, which he admitted only made things worse. In all, it took him about eight months to play competitive basketball once again.

Since Hoop Group’s camp was one of the first times he has played since the injury, it was obvious the physical toll it had taken. Despite the use of a knee brace, he was only occasionally able to run the floor, choosing instead to stay back on fast breaks.

But to Umoffia, he views the physical stuff as something that will come back naturally as long as he follows his physiotherapy regimen of swimming, running and weightlifting. However, what he believes might be tougher to come back from is the mental aspects of basketball.

“Getting back into the game is tough. Trying to keep my mind of the injury is hard,” he said. “I'm scared of dunking sometimes with two hands because I don't want to slip off. I don't want to jump [and land] weirdly.”

Through all the setbacks, he's heard only words of encouragement from everyone he knows. That now including coaches from the schools that have offered him, who as of June can directly communicate with prospects.

Even as his recruitment starts to pick up once again, he's not too worried about about that aspect at all. He's just happy to be able to play basketball once again.

“It’s a good way to come back into the game-- tough competition, good kids,” he said. I just want to play hard, make friends and not get injured.” -- Varun Kumar

Quick Hits
-- Jalen Carey (2018/Immaculate Conception, N.J.), who stood out as one of the top players at Albright on Thursday, opened up his second live period Wednesday night by adding to his list of now 11 Division I offers, with an offer from Penn State. Justin Winston, his teammate both at Immaculate Conception and on his AAU team, NJ Playaz, also received an offer from the Nittany Lions Wednesday night. It was after the two played against each other during the night session--Winston’s team came out with the victory--that Penn State offered them together.

“Justin and I are two of the best players on our team, so I like when he and I are able to achieve certain things together,” Carey said. “This is just another achievement we have, getting closer to our goals.”

Carey, whose offer sheet also includes nearby schools like Seton Hall, Temple, Rutgers, and Pittsburgh, displayed easy athleticism and an ability to do it all for his team on the offensive end. According to the 6-foot-3 guard who sits at No. 32 in the ESPN 2018 class rankings, he has also been contacted by the likes of Villanova, Connecticut, Missouri, and UNLV.

-- Jordan Money (2017/St. Elizabeth’s, Del.) got a chance to show that he’s more than just the sharpshooter he is with his Team Final AAU squad. Money was making plays all over the floor for his team, showing off some improved creativity off the bounce and crafty finishing ability near the rim.

Since a strong showing at Peach Jam, where he consistently knocked down shots playing alongside a slew of high-major teammates, Money has received strong interest from UNC-Greensboro, and plans to visit the campus after July. While he still doesn’t have any scholarship offers, the First State native has additional interest from Rider, Central Connecticut State, Fairleigh Dickinson, and La Salle.

He also has received interest from D-IIs Millersville and Lincoln since the start of the week, and while playing at the highest level of college basketball is obviously his goal, he’s not closed to the option of Division II basketball: “If I have to, if it’s my best option, I will. My goal is just to advance to the next level and be prepared for it, so if I have to go D-II I’ll go D-II, it’s not a problem.”

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