published Sunday, July 14th, 2013

Bradley Central's Brooke Copeland commits to Florida

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    Brooke Copeland
    Photo by Doug Strickland.
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CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Bradley Central rising senior Brooke Copeland committed Saturday to continue her basketball career at the University of Florida.

The 6-foot-2 forward averaged 19 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks a game last season for the Bearettes, earning all-state honors. She led them to the program's first Class AAA state-tournament appearance since 2000 with 23 points and 13 rebounds in a 55-46 sectional win over Blackman. She was also an all-state volleyball player and was named the Best of Preps female athlete of the year.

She chose Florida over Ole Miss, among other SEC schools. Copeland said she had "about 40 offers."

"When I visited Florida, it felt like home," she said Saturday. "The staff is family-oriented and I loved it there. I really wanted to get this over with because there's so much stress surrounding the commitment, but now that the AAU season is over I can focus on working hard and getting better every day stress-free."

Because of her height and rebounding prowess, Copeland has played mostly inside during her high school career. She has 3-point-shooting ability, though, and will be asked to take more shots from that range when she arrives in Gainesville after next season, as she is expected to move to more of a "Stretch-4" position.

The Gators, who finished 22-15 and reached the Women's NIT semifinals last season, use a fast-paced attack.

"I'm going to be asked to play both outside and inside," Copeland said. "They do a lot of ball screens, which will give me the opportunity to either catch and shoot or take my player off the dribble."

She said she received some good advice from uncle Chad Copeland, who played a year for Florida State before transferring back to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and earning Southern Conference co-player-of-the year honors.

"It's going to be a big transition for me. I've never left Cleveland," she said. "He told me I'm going to miss home and it's going to be tough for the first couple of years.

"I think I'm going to be nervous, but I'm definitely ready for the challenge."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.

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