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Copeland ready to guide PC basketball

New Phil Campbell coach Will Copeland watches Jordan Benford, left, and Skeeter Benford run a drill during Saturday’s practice. | Scot Beard/FCT

PHIL CAMPBELL — The search for the new varsity boys basketball coach is complete and the Bobcats have had their first practice under the new man in charge.

Will Copeland, who has been an assistant coach at Fort Payne High School since 2002, had his first look at his new team during a summer workout Saturday.

“One thing I like is the effort,” Copeland told the players during a drill. “I also like hearing you supporting each other.”

The practice, which included all players from seventh grade to varsity level, had 43 players participate.

The key principles Copeland stressed early and often were discipline and fundamentals.

He also said he was interested in gauging players’ attitudes when given a tough drill.

“I’m not looking for a Steve Nash,” he said during a ball-handling drill. “I am looking to see how you react when I ask you to do something.”

Copeland said getting disciplined and mastering the fundamentals were more important now than worrying about wins and losses.

The Bobcats are losing quite a bit of leadership following the graduation of eight seniors from last season’s squad.

“I am waiting to see what kind of players we’ve got (before settling on a style of play),” Copeland said. “I don’t want to get into that until I find out what the kids can do.”

Copeland’s resume as a player and a coach are impressive.

He was the assistant coach at Fort Payne, where he helped guide the Wildcats to area tournament titles in 2008 and 2009. The Wildcats were runners-up in 2003, 2004, 2006, and 2007.

Fort Payne reached the Regional Tournament at Jacksonville State in 2003 and 2009.

Before heading to Fort Payne, Copeland was head coach of the varsity boys program at Collinwood High School in Tennessee.

Copeland played high school basketball at Central High School, where he earned Second Team All-State honors.

Following high school, Copeland was a scholarship player at Itawamba Community College, where he earned All-State honors and played in the Mississippi North/South All-Star Game.

He finished his playing career at Louisiana College in Pineville, La.

Copeland will get his first look at his new team during a summer play date at 10 a.m. Thursday when Phil Campbell hosts a summer play date.

Copeland said he isn’t worried about the young players that will move to the varsity level to replace the departing seniors if they are willing to work hard.

“If the young guys can keep the proper attitude, they will get better,” Copeland said.

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