For the second consecutive season, George Mason junior forward Erik Copes will begin playing later than the rest of his teammates. On Friday the school announced that the 6-foot-8 Copes has been suspended for the Patriots’ first six games of the season due to a violation of athletic department policy.
Copes posted averages of 5.9 points and 6.0 rebounds per game in 2012-13, a season that began with a three-game suspension due to “student-athlete conduct violations.” Copes is the leading returning rebounder for a team that returns all five starters from last season, when the Patriots won 22 games and reached the finals of the CBI.
Copes started all 34 games in which he played last season, playing an average of 25 minutes per contest. In a loss to Towson on February 26 Copes accounted for 13 points and 15 rebounds, and about a month later he scored a season-high 14 points in George Mason’s win over the College of Charleston in the first round of the CBI.
Copes will miss games against American, Lamar, Northern Iowa, Saint Francis (PA), Iona and Princeton before making his season debut in a non-conference game against fellow Atlantic 10 member Rhode Island on November 30. That game was scheduled prior to the Patriots making their move from the CAA to the A-10, hence the “non-conference” designation.