University of North Carolina junior Justin Jackson is having a career year for the Tar Heels.
His dominance on the court at small forward helped UNC to a No. 1 seed in the 2017 NCAA Tournament, and he appears primed to continue that run.
Jackson looked as if he would head into last year’s NBA Draft, but he decided to hold off. And it’s proven to be the right call. Through the 2016-17 regular season, Jackson averaged 18.1 points per game along with 4.6 rebounds.
During the tournament run, he will have a support system in the stands that includes his girlfriend, Brooke Copeland. Copeland is a junior at the University of Florida and shares a lot in common with Jackson on — and off — the court.
Here’s what you need to know about Copeland:
1. Jackson Has Said He ‘Hopes to Marry’ Copeland One Day
Jackson wrote an article for The Players’ Tribune in which he said that he plays “for someone special,” Brooke. He said that “if she can put up with me a little bit longer, I hope we will get married one day.”
The couple have been together for “a couple of years,” Jackson said in the article. The couple are very religious and Jackson said he feels as if he’s been “blessed by God” to have Brooke be a key component of his life.
Jackson also said that Copeland has helped make him a more religious person and teach him “the importance of humility.”
2. Copeland Plays Basketball at Florida
Jackson isn’t the only one in the relationship that plays basketball. Copeland, a 6-foot-2 guard for the Florida Gators, just finished up her junior season. She started seven games for Florida and averaged 4.7 points to go along with 2.2 rebounds for the season. Copeland started in 15 games as a freshman and averaged a career-best 5 points per game that season.
Copeland, a telecommunication-production major at the school, was named to the South Eastern Conference’s 2016 Academic Honor Roll and was also named the Gators’ 2015 Most Improved Player.
In her biography, Copeland said she chose to wear the jersey No. 23 because of NBA star LeBron James and legend Michael Jordan. If all goes according to plan, Copeland is expected to graduate from Florida early.
3. Her Family Has Deep Roots Athletics
Copeland’s mother, Kim, also played basketball and her father, Brian, played football. Kim was a four-year basketball letterwinner at Chattanooga State University while Brian played collegiate football at Tennessee Technological University.
Her siblings play college sports, too. Brooke’s older brother Bryce just finished up his senior season playing basketball at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee. He’s a 6-foot guard and a business finance major at the school.
Brooke’s younger brother, Cole, is a standout football player at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
At Bradley Central High School, Cole specialized in football and basketball, though he tested his hand at golf, tennis, baseball and bowling. As a quarterback on the football team, he passed for 5,105 yards and 44 touchdowns through three seasons. On the basketball court, he averaged 20.9 points and 11.6 rebounds as a junior. He will start his freshman season at UT Chattanooga in the fall.
In addition to that, Brooke’s uncle Chad played basketball in college for Florida State University and UT-Chattanooga.
4. Copeland Is Very Active In Lending a Hand In the Community
An article on the Florida Gators’ website told about how Copeland spends countless hours serving within the community in Gainesville. Because of her commitment toward service, she was named to the SEC’s Community Service Team. In fact, she’s earned the honor for all three years at Florida.
The article lists some of the things that Copeland has accomplished with her service. That includes being on the board at GiGi’s Playhouse, a Down Syndrome Achievement Center in Gainesville. The facility offers free programs and support to those with Down syndrome.
Last year, Copeland visited Thailand to help out on a mission trip and she attends a special needs prom annually.
Copeland’s volunteering doesn’t stop there, she also spends time at local elementary schools and reads to children. She told FlordaGators.com senior writer Scott Carter that she wants to shine a spotlight on children who have Down syndrome. She said of those in need that she works with:
The children, oh my gosh, they are the most incredible beings in the world, so innocent and kind.
5. Copeland Had a Stellar High School Basketball & Volleyball Career
Like the rest of her siblings, Copeland attended Bradley Central in Cleveland, Tennessee and was a multi-sport athlete. At the school, Copeland excelled at both basketball and volleyball.
In her four years at the school, Copeland finished at No. 8 on Bradley’s all-time career scoring list for basketball, with 2,014 points. Her senior season, she was chosen as the district’s player of the year. In an interview with The Chattanoogan, she talked about how she felt her high school team was “disrespected” and deserved more credit.
We have a chip on our shoulder because people are disrespecting us. We only got two girls on the all-district team; that’s ridiculous. Two other teams have three players on that team. We should have three or four. And in my four years here we’ve dominated this district and coach (Jason) Reuter has never won the coach of the year award. That’s crazy.
With something set out to prove, Copeland led her team to another state championship. winning 62-38. In addition to playing basketball, Copeland was an all-state volleyball player.