Hewitt building up George Mason

New George Mason coach Paul Hewitt has landed quite a duo.

Hewitt received a commitment on Sunday from 6-foot-8, 225-pound senior big man Erik Copes (Scout.com, No. 57), who was released from his letter-of-intent with George Washington and is eligible to play this season.

"I love Coach Hewitt and the campus," Copes said on Sunday, hours after returning from a visit to the school. "It’s a perfect situation for me. This team is good with or without me, but I’m going to try and make them better."

Copes, a Philadelphia native, is ranked 57th in the Class of 2011 by Scout.com and ESPN has him at No. 55 in the nation.

"This was a tough situation for me because I grew up around GW,"
Copes said. "I had my mind set on going there and those guys are like family. I’m so close with Coach (Karl) Hobbs, but it was tough when he was fired."

"Coach Lonergan and the new athletic director, Patrick Nero, were great people, but I really wanted to be coached by my uncle," he added.

Copes initially chose George Washington primarily because his uncle, Roland Houston, was an assistant coach with the Colonials – and he said that wherever his uncle wound up getting a job, that’s where he was going.

Houston, after contemplating spots at other schools, decided to accept Hewitt’s offer to join the George Mason staff last week.

"I put pressure on him," Copes admitted of his uncle. "I called him right after I find out Coach (Karl) Hobbs was fired and asked him where we were going."

Copes is from Philadelphia and will give George Mason, a team ranked in the FOXSports.com Preseason Top 25, a big man who can rebound and also block shots.

The Patriots lose leading scorer Cam Long. Luke Hancock also received his release and is looking at other schools, but hasn’t ruled out returning to George Mason.

Houston, a former star at Rhode Island, has been on the GW staff for the past seven seasons.