Comeback No. 1: Powe's Antsy

CHERRY HILL, N.J. -- Leon Powe hopes folks haven't forgotten. Do they remember what he did at ABCD 2001? Do they remember how good he was? Do they remember the terror from East Oaktown? Do they?

"You know how I get it done," the 6-7 PF from Oakland (CA) Tech said Saturday night before Rick Barrett's Gym Rats Midnight Madness here at Cherry Hill East High School. "I've got to get back out there and prove to everyone that I'm still Leon Powe."

He couldn't do that this weekend. Not quite yet. The doctors told him to let his left ACL mend for another week and a half. So the Cal commitment did just that. He did what he's done for almost six months now: He watched from the sidelines.

It wasn't easy. For Powe, though, few things have been easy. His father left the family when Leon was two years old. He grew up poor in bad areas of Oakland. His mother, Connie, died suddenly last March. Then he suffered the knee injury at the adidas Texas Superstar Classic the second weekend of April.

But Powe started running a bit two and a half months ago. He was cleared some two weeks thereafter to run and spring without cutting side to side. He was doing some light jumping and shooting three weeks after that.

He said Saturday night that he's all but 100 percent -- and, man, does he want to get back on the floor.

"I can't wait," he said. "You know I like to compete. Especially when all the magazines and websites have been looking at other guys. Sometimes I think they forget how I played."

Not likely. Powe, after all, led ABCD 2001 in scoring (21.3 points per game) and rebounding (9.9). He averaged 27 points and 14 rebounds an outing last winter for coach Hodari McGavock's Oak Tech team. And he posted 19 points and 10 boards in his team's 80-75 loss to L.A. Westchester in the state championship game.

The ultra-athletic forward committed to Ben Braun's Bears in July. He convinced PG Ayinde Ubaka -- a travel squad teammate with the Oakland Slam N Jam Soldiers -- to join him. Ubaka gave his verbal in late August.

"It was either Cal or North Carolina," he said. "They were neck and neck. I had a shot to start at both, and both schools, education-wise, were great schools. But Cal was just closer to home.

"We're stocking up with players. We've just got to make sure we use them right. But I think Ben Braun is one of the top five coaches in America. Cal hasn't been to, like, a Sweet 16 in a while, so it'll be fun to help bring them back."

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