RICHMOND, Va. – Unless you’re a dedicated NBA fan, you probably don’t know who Chris Copeland is, and you probably don’t know that after a breakout rookie season with the New York Knicks, that he signed a multi-year contract with the Indiana Pacers.
But Jamal Shuler knows all about it.
After five seasons playing professionally in Germany and France, the former VCU star knows that if Copeland – a former teammate in Germany – can make it to the NBA, then maybe he can too. The 27-year-old Shuler says the success of Copeland, who played for four teams in Europe, as well as the NBA D-League, will serve as inspiration. The same goes for a guy like former Towson star Gary Neal, who Shuler played against while at VCU. Neal played in Turkey, Italy and Spain before signing with the San Antonio Spurs three years ago and has become one of the best shooters in the league.
So if you ask Shuler if he still has a fire in his belly to someday play in the NBA, he won’t hesitate.
“There definitely is, man. There definitely is,” he says.
Shuler’s desire to play in the NBA is one of the reasons you can find him back on the VCU campus every summer. In addition to his work in the weight room, Shuler, who lives in the Richmond area in the offseason, works out and plays pickup games with an impressive group of pros and former Rams at Franklin Street Gym. Eric Maynor has been a fixture in the games for years, as have former Rams B.A. Walker, Brandon Rozzell and a host of others. This summer, Reggie Williams of the Charlotte Bobcats is said to have been involved. It’s that type of training environment that Shuler says will keep his dream alive.