Look at the chess moves Justin Taylor and Quadir Copeland are playing. On Sunday Taylor, 4-star shooting guard, announced his plan to transfer to IMG Academy for his senior season. Who happens to be waiting for him? Copeland, a 3-star combo guard, who decided to transfer there in the spring. This means the Syracuse backcourt of ’22-’23 (and beyond) will be playing together before they ever lace them up at the Carrier Dome.
Taylor knows exactly what this means. He told Mike McAllister, “Quadir and I can’t wait to starting playing together and build this chemistry before we even get to ‘Cuse.” Think about how rare this is. A pair of backcourt mates, coming into a college in the same class, having the previous season to perfect playing alongside one another. Copeland will understand where Taylor likes to shoot from. Taylor will feel out how Copeland likes to distribute. Pick and rolls. Fast breaks. Help defense. It’s beyond invaluable to be able to work together before stepping into the Melo Center.
Combine that experience with the limited practice time NCAA athletes now have, plus massive roster turnover that defines every team in America. You begin to see a picture forming of just how advantageous this season at IMG will be. Plus, the competition Copeland and Taylor will face is elite. Last season IMG played opponents as far flung as Minnesota and Kansas, almost every team with high-major talent. It’s a college feel for their final season in high school.
It was a master stroke by these two. In April, Copeland decided to transfer to IMG. In July, Taylor committed to Syracuse. Taylor promised to help recruit talent to SU, which presumably included Quadir. In August it paid dividends as Copeland pledged to the Orange. Copeland must have spoken to Taylor about teaming up at IMG in some regard. Less than a week later Taylor announced he was heading to IMG too. Don’t forget incoming recruit Benny Williams also played last year at IMG in their post-grad program. So there will be massive amounts of familiar turf between these three (if Williams hangs around for more than one season on the Hill). When Taylor announced it on Instagram, fellow Class of ’22er Kamari Lands chimed in with support. It’s coming together.
In today’s college basketball landscape, one in constant turmoil because of transfer portals and roster turnover, Copeland and Taylor’s masterstroke will be hugely beneficial, especially for a pair of players who will be handed the keys to the backcourt. It’s like being two chess moves ahead of your counterparts. Checkmate, ACC.