Nebraska forward Isaac Copeland was on his way to class when he got the news — the Georgetown transfer’s waiver request for immediate eligibility had been granted. Instead of having to wait until the second semester to begin his Nebraska career, he’ll be in uniform when the Huskers open the season Nov. 7.
Time for celebration?
“I saw it and I was like, ‘Yeah, but I got to get to class,’” Copeland said.
His phone blew up as he sat there with messages from Twitter well-wishers and a group text from Tim Miles to the entire team. Nebraska’s frontcourt had just gotten a big boost.
It wasn’t a given that Copeland’s waiver request would be granted. The former 5-star recruit spent a season-and-a-half at Georgetown, playing seven games last season before a back injury sidelined him for the rest of the year. He transferred to Nebraska last January and hoped the NCAA would agree with his claim that he shouldn’t have played at all in 2016-17.
The NCAA ruling came down a littler earlier than expected.
“I was under the impression that I wouldn’t find out until the day before the first game,” Copeland said. “That’s how I went into this situation. Once I found out today, we haven’t even started official practice yet, so it’s a big relief and I’m happy.”
Copeland had surgery on his back Feb. 23. Nebraska hosted Illinois three days later, and the transfer forward was determined to be there for his new teammates.
“I was walking real slow like an old man,” he said.
Copeland’s recovery, however, went more quickly than expected according to Nebraska’s trainers. He was cleared to begin working out with the Huskers in the summer, and lived in the weight room, developing core strength and explosiveness.
“It’s big surgery,” Copeland said. “It’s not piece of cake. It’s hard. You just have attack each day like it’s an individual challenge.”
In just a few months on campus, however, Copeland said he’s built some strong bonds with his fellow Huskers. Guards Thomas Allen and Anton Gill, like Copeland, are from Raleigh, North Carolina. He’s also one of five players on the 2017-18 roster who started his career somewhere else. Like much of college basketball today, it’s a diverse roster but one that is coming together through the offseason.
“I think whenever you can really connect with people off the court, it translates on the court,” Copeland said. “We’re very close off the court.”
Copeland isn’t 100-percent sure what his role on the team will be. That only comes with game experience, he said. But he does feel the Huskers enter the 2017-18 season with a chip on their shoulders.
“We know a lot of people are doubting us, but we know what we have," Copeland said. "We’re full of talent this year. We’re really excited. We want to prove everybody wrong.”
Husker fans can officially count Copeland in that talent tally now.
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.