Saturday, January 28, 2023

MTSU Recruiting: Blue Raiders Strengthen Backcourt

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By Steven Johnson//Contributing Writer

MURFREESBORO – With JUCO forwards Justin Coleman and Karl Gamble already signed, MTSU head coach Kermit Davis focused his attention on improving his backcourt.

Davis inked two guards last week in Jalen Perry and JUCO floor general Qua Copeland.

A 6-foot-2 combo guard, Perry will be called in to help bolster an offensive attack that finished last in Conference-USA last season. Perry certainly has a plethora of accolades from his time at Ballard High School in Louisville, Kentucky.

Perry led Ballard to a 32-3 record and a Sweet 16 appearance in the Kentucky state tournament. He was also voted the Region Seven player of the year in Kentucky and also garnered a spot on the First Team All-State Basketball list as well.

Spending time behind future Division I guards such as Quentin Snyder (Louisville) and Kelan Martin (Butler), Perry was primarily a complimentary piece for most of his career.

However, with Snyder’s and Martin’s departure, Perry was afforded a larger role on the team.

Perry thrived, averaging 21.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.7 steals a game, while also shooting nearly 48 percent from the field and an impressive 41 percent from the three point line.

Perry chose the Blue Raiders over offers from New Orleans, New Hampshire and interest from others.

While Perry was brought in to enhance the offensive attack, Copeland was brought in to potentially lead it in future seasons.

With the Blue Raiders averaging 13 turnovers compared to 11 assists last season, Davis certainly knew his team needed help at the all-important point guard position.

Originally from Summerville, South Carolina, Copeland started 24 games for the Gulf State College Commodores where he averaged a respectable 10.4 points, four assists and 2.2 rebounds per game.

The crafty point guard was at his best last season when he incorporated his teammates into the offense, and in the open court where his speed and elite handles were hard to contain.

Copeland will need to improve his long range jumper, even though he shot a respectable 33 percent from the three point line.

Copeland chose the Blue Raiders over offers from Louisiana-Lafayette and other schools that showed heavy interest, such as Indiana State.

While Perry and Copeland are solid players, they will both find themselves in a logjam in the backcourt as the Blue Raiders are returning multiple guards from the previous season.

It should be no surprise if Perry finds himself with a decent amount of playing time next season. Before the addition of Copeland and Perry, the Blue Raiders’ recruiting class ranked as the seventh best in C-USA, per 247Sports. With the addition of these guards, MTSU could find itself with a top five class in the conference, which is much needed after last year’s finish.

Copeland and Perry are expected to enroll at MTSU in August.

For more Blue Raiders sports, follow us at www.mtsusidelines.com, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter at @Sidelines_Sport.

To contact sports editor Connor Grott, email sports@mtsusidelines.com or follow him on Twitter at @Connor_Grott.

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