While siblings being named to all-state teams is rare, a Bradley Central brother and sister duo has joined an even more exclusive club by earning the honor in the same year.
Bryce and Brooke Copeland were both selected for the Tennessee Sports Writer’s Association Class AAA All-State Basketball Teams released today.
“This is a great honor. To be able to get it together makes it that much more special,” declared “little sister” Brooke, who earned TSWA all-state honors in volleyball last fall as well. “Growing up I saw how hard he (Bryce) worked. The success he had athletically drove me to want to do the same. I wanted to be like him.”
“Getting this now is extra special because we’ll never have the opportunity to do it again,” she added in reference to her older brother graduating next month, while she still has another high school year to go.
“For us to possibly be the first (brother-sister) combo to do this is pretty cool,” added Bryce, who has decided to continue his hoop career at Lee University, which is stepping up from the NAIA level to compete in NCAA Division II beginning this fall. “I was kind of surprised I was chosen. It’s very humbling. I’m honored to be listed among such a group of great players.”
While the Copelands may be the first brother-sister tandem to be among the state’s elite listing in the same season, two sets of twin brothers have been named to first-team all-state squads — Kevin and Keith Cobb, of Cleveland High’s 1993 state championship football team, plus Clarksville Academy’s Malcom and Martin Smith were both Mr. Tennessee Basketball finalist a couple of years ago. Jackson North Side and Mississippi State basketball twins Richard and Reginald Delk were on the 2005 all-state lists, one as a second teamer and the other as an honorable mention.
Born just 16 months apart, Bryce and Brooke Copeland have been leading the way in Bradley athletics since their arrivals on the South Lee Highway campus.
Bryce was a four-year starter for both the basketball and football Bears, earning numerous District 5-AAA awards in both.
On the court, the 5-foot-11 guard helped coach Kent Smith’s club to an 83-44 record, including back-to-back TSSAA Sectional Game appearances to go along with the Region 3-AAA title in February and the district crown in 2012.
In his final season in the Black-and-Gold, Bryce averaged 19 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3 assists and 2.4 steals per game. He shot 54 percent (157-of-293) from the two-point area and made 62 3-pointers on his way to a career mark of 1,689 total points, placing him eighth on the all-time Bear list. He missed a total of 14 games in four years, with 11 of those coming after he broke his arm in the final 2011 playoff football game.
“He came in and scored 30 points against McCallie as a freshman,” related coach Smith. “From the first time he came in as a freshman, he’s been a leader on and off the court. He’s a winner.”
“I’ve been coaching here for 17 years and he’s one of the best I’ve ever had,” the veteran Bear mentor praised. “He is most deserving of every award he gets and then some. He has every reason to have an ego, but he doesn’t.”
On the gridiron, the southpaw quarterback had one of the most prolific offensive career’s in Bradley history, posting 8,204 total yards and accounting for 85 touchdowns, both numbers are likely school records.
Taking over the starting job due to an injury early in his freshman season, the prolific signal caller completed 480-of-820 (59 percent) passes for 6,474 yards (a southeast Tennessee area record), including 61 for scores.
A dual threat, Copeland was also the team’s leading rusher this past season, gaining 715 yards on 150 carries, 10 for touchdowns. He had 1,730 career rushing yards and found paydirt 24 times on the ground.
Bryce also excels in the classroom, making straight A’s at BCHS with the lone B as part of his 3.95 GPA coming from an advanced math class he took as an eighth-grader that was for high school credit.
Brooke burst onto scene as a 6-foot freshman post three seasons ago and, along with some talented teammates, the Bearettes have posted a very impressive 88-11 record while winning three straight district and region titles. Making the TSSAA Sectional round each of those years, the Bradley girls won their first substate game in 20 years this season and made their first TSSAA state tournament since 2000.
Now at 6-foot-2, Brooke’s game has expanded to the entire court as she has the skills not only to dominate inside, but play the perimeter as well. Defensively she can steal the ball, block a shot or snag a rebound and key a fast break by driving the length of the court for a basket or a dish.
“She has worked hard to develop her whole game,” expressed Bradley coach Jason Reuter. “In the rich Bearette tradition, she will go down as one of the best. The good news is we have her back for another year.”
Brooke has already 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 award.
“We (Brooke and Bryce) would compete each night to see who would score the most points,” Brooke related. “He had the advantage because we (the girls team) played first, so he knew how many I had. We’d trash talk and text each other during the day saying we were going to beat each other.”
Even though the high school basketball season is over, Brooke has been traveling to Murfreesboro twice a week for practice with her national champion Nike Flight AAU team.
“We won the national title last year and are ranked No. 1 going into this year,” she commented. “More than half of the girls on the all-state team are my teammates on the Nike team.” The AAU tournaments begin later this month.
She has also been 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 (30-15) came within a win of making the state tournament.
The Copelands, plus younger brother Cole who will be a freshman for the Bears next season, come from strong athletic stock as their mother Kim (Collins) was an all-state player (1990) for legendary East Ridge coach Catherine Neely, while their dad Brian, plus his brothers Chad and Brent were all standout athletes at Bradley. Chad, who played at Florida State and UT-Chattanooga, was an all-state hoop player in 1989 for coach Earl Rowan.
“They’ve been blessed with good coaches and teammates and play for a great program,” expressed mom Kim. “We’re very proud of them. They have worked very hard to improve their game.”
“We chose for them to come to Bradley (over offers from private schools) because the coaches have a lot of character and care about the kids more than just as players,” echoed dad Brian.
“We knew they’d be pushed to excel athletically and be able to compete on the highest level,” he added.
“As far as our family accomplishments go, both of them winning region championships this year and this (the all-state honors) are right at the top.”
Brooke and Bryce are the first Bradley basketball all-staters since Jackie Pickel (2006) and Terrence Oglesby (2007), respectively.
TSWA Girls Class AAA All-State team
Brooke Copeland (Bradley Central)
Nina Davis (Memphis Central)
Olivia Jones (Riverdale)
Alexa Middleton (Riverdale)
Allison Ball (Cocke County)
Hannah Goolsby (Cookeville)
Kia Perry (Station Camp)
Erin Walsh (Bearden)
Tyisha Petty (Riverdale)
Alex Johnson (Blackman)
Crystal Dangerfield (Blackman)
Madison Blevins (Farragut)
Aryanna Gilbert (Columbia Central)
Shy Copney (Science Hill)
Tiana Tarter (Science Hill)
TSWA Boys Class AAA All-State team
Bryce Copeland (Bradley Central)
Nick King (Memphis East)
Robert Hubbs (Dyer County)
Darius Thompson (Blackman)
Johnathan Williams III (Southwind)
Jajuan Johnson (Southwind)
Jonathan Burroughs-Cook (Ridgeway)
DeSean Dockery (Ridgeway)
Leron Black (White Station)
Dedric Lawson (Hamilton)
Keelon Lawson (Hamilton)
Devin Sibley (Karns)
T.J. Kimble (Maryville)
Ryan Jones (Siegel)
Demarcus Martin (Farragut)