Colleges such as Temple, La Salle, Niagara, West Virginia and Providence tried to recruit Erik Copes for their basketball programs.

Deep down, they had no chance.

Copes, a 6-9, 230-pound junior center at Imhotep Charter, has made an oral commitment to George Washington University, and it's no coincidence that his uncle, Roland Houston, is an assistant to coach Karl Hobbs.

"My uncle was kind of asking me to get it over with, and I was ready anyway," Copes said. "Now I can focus on my grades."

Houston, who starred at Martin Luther King ('78) and Rhode Island, is preparing for his sixth season at GW. He previously worked at La Salle University and is widely respected in coaching circles for his personality and mentoring/coaching skills.

"I know my uncle is the best man I could possibly be around, as a person and a coach," Copes said. "I go down there every summer to spend 2 weeks at his house and it's always a great experience. I know he'll support me no matter what."

Houston lives not far from GW's campus. Might he have a 4-year houseguest?

"Nah, no special privileges for me," Copes said, laughing. "I'm going to live on campus. I want to have fun and experience everything about college."

Copes, who plans to major in criminal justice, made an unofficial visit to GW this past weekend.

"On Saturday," he said, "my uncle was in his office and I was in coach Hobbs' office along with my mom and little cousin. He asked me what I thought of GW. I committed right then. I told him I loved it, and that was where I wanted to be."