Pope, Aggies Unite

Reggie Theus starred in the NBA and dabbled in television. Even with a resume like Theus' writing the script to the Herb Pope recruitment is quite an accomplishment.

It's a little tough for a lot of people to wrap their minds around, unless you are a fan of the New Mexico State Aggies. Then again, it might even be more difficult to process.

Herb Pope, Scout.com's No. 17 prospect in the country, is headed to Western Athletic Conference where he'll play for the New Mexico State Aggies and Coach Reggie Theus. As a head coach you simply can't have many better days than the one Theus had on Tuesday. He's presently holding a signed letter of intent from a young man who is talented enough to leave a significant mark on his program in Las Cruces.

Pope, a 6-foot-8 forward, according to folks we talked to in the know, was sold on the idea of being developed as a wing player under the watchful eye of a big wing who played 14 seasons in the NBA.

At the end of the day, that recruiting approach and the connections at Aliquippa via assistant Chris Pompey were the difference. Pompey, through a myriad of previous relationships, assisted in the Aggies obtaining a signature from a recruit who can provide an instant impact to their program.

Pope is a talent. He wants to develop into a small forward and he's capable. He's got great ball skills and a presence on the court. The challenge for him has been staying focused and consistently cranking his game up to that championship level. It's in him.

There will be a lot of surprised followers of college basketball with this decision. Maryland, Oklahoma and Texas had him on their campuses. They worked at signing him as well.

So did New Mexico State and that program deserves credit for toeing the line and getting a signature from a highly regarded recruit. Few would have envisioned Pope would shun bigger programs at the end of the day. In Las Cruces, it's a job well done.

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