Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
By ALEX KLINE
On Sunday night, two very different — but talented – players made their college decisions.
Erik Copes, a a 6-foot-8 2011 center out of Imhotep Charter in Pennsylvania, is headed to Geroge Mason.
And Georges Niang (pictured), a 6-7 2012 forward out of the Tilton School in New Hampshire, has pledged to Iowa State.
Copes, who was released from his letter of intent with George Washington on Tuesday, decided it was best to move on. The program fired head coach Karl Hobbs, who along with Copes’ uncle, Roland Houston, recruited the star senior to George Washington. Houston was recently hired by new George Mason head coach Paul Hewitt as an assistant. This led to Copes taking an official visit this weekend and his ultimate decision.
“I love the Virginia area and what it has to offer,” he said by phone on Sunday. “The university is amazing and the campus is great.” Copes was disappointed when he first found out that the George Washington staff was fired. However, after visiting George Mason this weekend, he believes this is a much better opportunity.
The No. 22 power forward in the Class of 2011 per Rivals, Copes joins Christ the King point guard Corey Edwards and St. Benedict’s Prep guard Vaughn Gray in George Mason’s 2011 class. Both remained committed after the coaching change.
Niang’s recruitment was not as complicated.
Coming into Tilton School as a non-athlete, Niang was not a basketball player until he tried it. Now, his stock has taken off. The talented forward made his decision after evaluating the process.
“I committed to Iowa State,” he said by phone on Sunday night. “Everything felt right and Coach (Fred) Hoiberg is a great guy and coach. The staff did a great job of recruiting me and making me feel at home.”
Niang, is part of the talented Tilton and BABC team which features Nerlens Noel, Wayne Selden and Goodluck Okonoboh, among others. He took an unofficial visit to the Hawkeye state in March and toured Iowa and Iowa State. Ultimately, he chose the Cyclones over the Hawkeyes, Providence, Texas A&M, Miami (FL) and a number of other schools.
“Georges is a tremendous competitor with great offensive skills and instincts,” Tilton coach Marcus O’Neil said by text.
“His focus is always on winning and has proven to be very durable.”
RECRUITING RUNDOWNBrian Bernardi, a 2012 shooting guard out of Xaverian in New York, took an unofficial visit to Georgetown on Saturday. “I loved it!” he said. Bernardi, who has over half a dozen mid-major offers and is still waiting for his first high major offer. That could come soon from Providence, a school he visited two weeks ago.
Johnnie Vassar, a 2014 point guard out of Lawrence Academy in Massachusetts, took an unofficial visit to Syracuse on Saturday. Vassar, who went to see his sister graduate from the school, also met with Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins. “The ‘Cuse visit went really well and I enjoyed meeting Coach Hopkins,” he stated. A Chicago native, Vassar recently took an unofficial visit to Illinois, where he picked up his first scholarship offer from the Fighting Illini.
Zach Auguste, a 2012 power forward out of New Hampton in New Hampshire, took an unofficial visit to Providence this weekend, according to his coach Pete Hutchins.Derek Walton, a 2013 point guard out of Chandler Park Academy in Michigan, took an unofficial visit to Michigan on Friday. The talented guard hopes to stay close to home and loves cold weather. “The visit went GREAT,” he said by text. “The coaching staff is incredible & the program is going in a positive direction.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.