He might not be playing this summer for his Oakland Slam N Jam program, but Leon Powe caused a ripple this week here at the adidas Big Time Tournament in Las Vegas when he announced his intentions to attend California.
Powe, an aggressive 6-8, 230 pound power forward from Oakland Tech H.S. in Oakland, Calif., committed to Ben Braun's Golden Bear program on Wednesday. He said he picked the Pac 10 program after also considering serious overtures from the University of North Carolina.
"You know, Jason Kidd stayed home and went to Cal, and the crowd loved him, and I think I have a lot of support out there," Powe said.
Kidd, who attended St. Joseph's H.S. in Alameda, Calif., spent two years in Berkeley before jumping to the NBA ranks. Originally a lottery pick by the Dallas Mavericks, Kidd helped the New Jersey Nets reach the NBA Finals this year.
Powe's final four list included Cal, UNC, Kansas and Maryland.
"I was planning on taking some visits, but I guess I am not going to now," he said. "I was debating on North Carolina and Cal, and my family was probably the biggest factor in why I picked Cal."
"My brothers and sisters really look up to me as a role model, so if I stay home, they could come to my games, see what I am doing and making progress," Powe continued. "And they are going to do the same thing."
Powe, who is one of the top 10 prospects in the Class of 2003, tore knee ligaments in April at a tournament in Houston. That put him on the shelf until for the entire July evaluation period, but he had clearly cemented himself last summer as one of this class' top players with his relentless work on the offensive glass.
Although his initial diagnosis was not to play until the basketball season starts in November, Powe told Rivalshoops.com that he is shooting for a September return to action so that he can play at the Gym Rats Midnight Madness event in late September at Eastern Regional H.S. in Voorhees, N.J.
Powe has the talent and ability to have an instant impact in the Pac 10, and like his Bay Area predecessor Kidd, he's hoping to be ready for the NBA level after just a few years of college. A lot could depend on how he rebounds from his injury, and any long-term effects that the knee could be subject to in the weeks and years to come.
"I am not trying to stay four years," Powe explained. "I would like to stay two, but if push comes to shove, I would stay until my junior year."
Powe shows little effects of the knee injury here in Las Vegas. While he's not playing, he has been at all of Slam N Jam's games here (until their elimination on Thursday afternoon), and has been walking around normally without the aid of any devices.
"My knee is coming along great," he said. "My doctor told me that I could run full speed, and I can jump and dunk and stuff, but I don't really want to do too much. I warm up with the team, and I am doing a lot of agility stuff. All I have to do is keep working now."
Rivalshoops plans to catch Powe in action this winter with his Oakland Tech squad, and we'll keep you posted on his recovery and play at that time. Stay tuned!