No one has ever doubted that Herb Pope is his own man, but the five-star forward really proved it when he turned down several high-major programs to sign with Reggie Theus's up-and-coming New Mexico State program.
New Mexico State beat out Texas, Maryland, Memphis, Oklahoma and Pittsburgh to land the highest-profile recruit in Aggie basketball history.
"Herb is a very bright kid who knows what he is looking for," Coach Theus told Rivals.com. "He was very set on his relationship with his coach. It is important for him to be taught on the court by someone who has done it himself.
"Also, we have brand new facilities that we put 26 million dollars into. Our facilities are just as good as anyone's around. If we didn't, we probably wouldn't be having this same conversation."
Excited about the state of his program, Coach Theus is expecting Pope to take the Aggies to another level of play.
"We have strong numbers in our basketball program," said Theus. "Few teams, however, win big without a superstar. Herb gives us that element to get us to the next level. He can really catapult our program."
Pope, a 6-foot-8, 233-pound small forward from Aliquippa (Pa.) High School, is the No. 23 ranked prospect in the Rivals150.
Instrumental in landing Pope was the work of assistant coach Chris Pompey.
"Chris is from the Pittsburgh area and knows Herb's coaches and is best friends with the football coach at Aliquippa," said Theus. "The connection started there. Then once Herb got here for his visit, we got along extremely well."
Herb Pope scouting report:
A terrific open court ball handler, Pope is very adept at threading the needle with his passing. More of a mid-range scorer with limited shooting range, Pope is a bouncy athlete who will only get better around the basket and defensively as he gets stronger.