Herb Pope knows what people are saying. He hears it all the time. And even when coaches couldn't watch him at the King James Shooting Stars Classic, he couldn't get away from one the hottest names on the recruiting trail. The multi-skilled 6-foot-8 forward from Aliquippa (Pa.) High School knows all eyes are on him.
Even when college coaches couldn't watch players in action on Friday night, Pope had the big eyes of Bob Huggins looking at him. A giant-sized picture hung on the walls of the Rhodes Arena at the University of Akron. Huggins was the Zips head man before taking over at Cincinnati. Huggins has been watching Pope since he took the Kansas State job.
"It seems like it," Pope said.
The buzz has Pope picking Kansas State like so many other elite level prospects. But he says don't read too much into the pro-Wildcat information.
"In all of the articles people read, there is really more there what there really says," Pope said.
Since pulling out of his verbal commitment from Pitt, Pope has become a hot commodity in the elite high-major world of college hoops. For good reason, too. Pope is one of the most versatile players in the country.
Pope was outstanding on the opening night of play at the King James Classic. There has been little question about his athleticism, rebounding, interior scoring but his passing skills went to another level. His ball-handling is top-notch.
It's no wonder why Kansas State, Louisville, Connecticut and Pittsburgh are players for his signature.
"I am just basically waiting until the end of the summer to make a decision," Pope said. "If not, I'm going to be a late guy. I can see myself waiting until the last day in the last week. I want to make sure I pick the right college for me and for my family."
"I'm waiting to see who it is going to be. I want to see who thinks I can help their game and where I can help when games."
Believe Pope when he says recruiting isn't a priority. He's having too good of a time to worry about letters, visits and what colleges are watching his every move at every AAU tournament he plays in. Pope wants to be a teenager. He wants to be a basketball player. He wants to have fun and wants to win tournament championships. So far, he's two for three. The JOTS won the Pittsburgh Jam Fest and the Solon King Classic in Ohio during April's travel tour.
"I love my team right now. Everybody shares the ball. Everybody steps up when it counts. Everybody is having a lot of fun," Pope said. "I'm having a lot of fun out here. People are joking around, having fun, playing hard, patting each other on the butt. We just love the game."
And that is why Pope is just a commodity. He says "anybody" can get involved. "I'm just open."