Q & A With Herb Pope

Herb Pope is one of the most talented prospects in America. He's also a young man, who by way of a few incidents last summer opened himself up for scrutiny. Recently, Pope contacted Scout.com and wanted to clear the air about himself, how he's perceived and his recruiting situation.

The summer of 2006 didn't go exactly the way Herb Pope had planned. Blessed with Top 10 talent, Pope didn't always play to his capabilities and sometimes found himself in spots of trouble on and off the court.

There was an incident in Orlando where he and one of his assistant AAU coaches allegedly had a disagreement. Without getting into the details, suffice it to say the incident was chatted about in recruiting circles and to a degree, has stayed with Pope through the early fall.

Eight days ago, Herb Pope contacted Scout.com and wanted to provide an insight into his situation. The young man feels like he's being portrayed in a negative light and took nearly an hour to address a variety of topics with us.

All he wanted was a chance to speak his mind, allow people to get a glimpse into his life, see who he is and what's going on with his situation. We asked him to speak on a variety of topics and the conversation took a number of turns.

The following are excerpts from our conversation with Pope, one of Scout.com's Top 20 players in America.

On How He's Perceived

I don't like how everyone is making a bad perception of me and I drop in the rankings because I get hurt and can't go to camp. That's the least of my worries; I want to get my name cleaned up. There's nothing out there good on Herb Pope that tells the truth of what happened.

Herb Pope (Hawkins)

Why Are You Not In Florida At Arlington Country Day?

I'm out of Florida because when I go to college I won't be home. I thought that my name is already out there and I don't have much to prove. I want to enjoy my last senior year and that's why I came home. Really, I never attended school down there.

On An Incident During A Game In Orlando

The thing that happened … I'm a good teammate so I'm not going to let anyone jump on my teammates. I went to separate my teammate and the boy hit me in my testicles. I lost my composure and I went up there and tried to grab a kid up and they threw me out of the game. It wasn't just like I acted alone but the media wanted to blow me up. I never got to talk to him and clear my name up.

Who Is Herb Pope?

Herb Pope is a person that likes to have a good time and the good times are around people. I like to have fun and laugh. I try to spread that. I'm a loving person and when I meet people that I like I keep in contact with them. I've met a lot of players over the years and when we're together we hang out. I attract a lot of people to me because everyone likes my personality. Who is Herb Pope? You have to meet me myself to answer that question fully.

Do You Need To Go Away From Home For College?

I think so. To be away from home, that might be overrated. Actually, I just need to be somewhere where I fit. It's not about being close to home, it's about fit.

How Much Does It Affect You When You Hear and Read Things?

I try not to read about the bad stuff. That hurts me. All the people that I talked to around here tell me that the more successful you are the more people are going to try to hurt you.

My thing is this and my grand daddy used to tell me this. He said believe half of what you see and none of what you hear. That made me think about a lot of stuff. I try to go by that. It's motivation to me. I'm really going to excel. This is showing me how the business is. College coaches can't take a risk on hot heads and I understand every coach. I'm not mad at them because they're protecting their jobs. I can't do anything but try to prove to them that I'm not that person once you meet me. Everyone that's met me hasn't said a bad thing about me. I haven't got into any fight that I wasn't hit first. If I get hit first you have to defend yourself. From the projects you learn how to defend yourself.

Have Schools Backed Off?

College coaches are backing off, not even backing off but my stock fell. I really couldn't play this summer because my back.

How Do You Think You Did When You Played

I thought I played as best to my abilities. Not every game you perform at the highest level because the competition level isn't there. I thought that every big name player at NBA Camp and Nike Skills Camp I held my own.

Some Say You're A Lock For Kansas State

A lot of coaches back off because my (AAU) coach is best friends with Bob Huggins that it's a lock that I'm going to Kansas State. Don't get me wrong, Coach Huggins is a very good coach and all but they already have some committed players.

Who Came To See You In September?

The only one that came up here was Coach Gary Williams from Maryland. I haven't had a phone in the past 3-4 weeks so I haven't been able to contact any coaches. A lot of coaches think I lost contact with them and aren't interested. That's not true at all.

Is It Bad Only One School Came?

That's a very bad sign. That's crazy. But, my (high) school is football first. They don't understand how to promote basketball at the school yet. I'm doing all this recruiting on my own. I have to deal with coaches and find a place to meet them.

Herb, Trouble Seems To Follow You?

It's pretty much because … I don't blame nothing on anybody else. I'll take responsibility for my actions. If I don't think I did anything wrong, I'll come out and say it. Trouble has found me in the past but in high school I'm figuring out ways to solve problems but trouble seems to find me. Maybe its bad karma?

On His On-The-Court Reputation

That's the first time I ever got into a fight in a tournament. I might have gotten thrown out because I had 5 fouls but other than that I never had an altercation in a game. The longer you play basketball it's bound to happen to anybody. There were no fists thrown, it was never a fight, it was just a big altercation. We got in each other's faces, the refs cleared it up and they threw me and the other boy out of the game but I get the bad end of the deal.

That's the thing. I really do. You know how many cheap shots I took this year at tournaments because players were trying to figure out how it used to be? I got undercut and banged up and never retaliated. I did one time – I didn't even retaliate – I just grabbed a kid. It was never really an altercation. I don't want this to sound like ‘this is just him talking trying to fool somebody.' This is legit, it's a straight up stuff so nobody gets a bad view on me.

Anyone that talks to me knows that I'm an intelligent person. When I get to college no coaches are going to have to worry about me being eligible. If I'm not eligible how am I going to get to the next level? My goal is to get my degree, finish out my career strong wherever I attend and I'm going to break records. I want my name down there in stone and I want to go on and try to make it to the NBA. That's farfetched but it's just my goal. I need my school to have a good business program.

Who Have You Spoken To Recently?

I talked to (Maryland) and I talked to a couple of people when I was in Florida because that's when I had a phone. Oklahoma, UConn and Louisville. I had talked to those coaches and asked those coaches if they took the scholarship from me and they told me that they never said any of those things. Somebody here is trying to blackball me into going to a specific place. It's crazy how things are turning out.

Who Is Realistically Recruiting You?

Nobody really but Maryland and Pitt.

And Kansas State?

I get mail from them but I don't have them in my stuff. They're done. I would like new coaches to come in and talk to me. That's why I need this (information) out there. It's not a lock at all for Kansas State and it's a 98% chance I'm not going there. I don't like how everyone said that I'm going there. I want to be recruited. I want to meet head coaches and if the head coach isn't feeling it. Don't even waste the assistant's time because the head coaches make the final decisions.

What's Your Timetable?

Once I make a couple of visits, I'm definitely going to commit.

Why should a college take a chance on you?

The thing is I don't think its taking a chance. I think they have the wrong perception of me. If you sit down and talk to me for 30 minutes and get to know who I am; most coaches can tell if you have character and if you want to get to the next level and do what it takes. I care about a lot of people and I try to help a lot of people even if I don't have much. When it comes down to it, if I can help you out in any way shape or form.

I don't think I'm a bad person. Situations occur with me that don't get both sides of the story. It's like flipping a coin and it always lands on heads. Unfortunately I waited too long to solve the problem. My aunt talked to me about it and said that's not how adults solve problems.

Did We See The Best Herb Pope In Summer?

Y'all have yet to see the best Herb Pope. The best Herb Pope is in the gym getting his shot down. My body is going to come. I'm getting bigger and the more older I get the more mature my body gets.

Can You Qualify To Play Next Year?

That's the thing. My grades are good. Once I realized what they were trying to do, I'm not going to say any names, but there were three people that were playing me for a puppet. No one can get my transcript and it's not bad. I want to wait until I take the SAT to see. Someone got a hold of my transcript and it's not true. First of all, I never went to Hopewell my freshman year. I went to two schools – Montrose and Aliquippa. People think that I'm always moving around but I went to 2 schools.

What Will The School That Signs You Get?

They're looking at a 4-year guy, someone who can get to the next level. I think that who gets me, they're getting a steal. I know me and I know what I'm capable of doing. I want a fair shot like everyone else. No one else's name is being dragged through the mud like this.

Where Would Like To Visit?

I don't know. I'm definitely going to visit Maryland and Pitt. There's 3 other schools that I'll have make sure I check out. I have to really know who is interested in me and find out if I fit into their system.

Scout.com ranks the 6-foot-8 Pope as the No. 17 prospect in America. He'll take the SAT Nov. 4 and after that he'll be eligible to make official visits. In our opinion, the window for an early decision doesn't seem to be open and a spring signing would appear to be likely. We'll report back on Pope in a few weeks.

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