City of Palms: Leon Powe

Leon Powe is a man-child, make no mistake about it. The 6-8, 245-pound junior plays for Oakland Technical, coached by Hodari McGavock, who also chimed in with a few comments. Some of the notable products of the school are Clint Eastwood, Curt Flood, John Brodie and Ricky Henderson. It looks like we might be adding another name to that list, as Leon is destined to be a good one.

He is a power player, whose game reminds me of (for old school fans) Spencer Haywood, and for younger ones, Chris Webber. J.R. Reid might come to mind for some at UNC, but I think he has better hands and a better jumper. Here are some excerpts from our chat with the Carolina target.

Under The Palms with Leon Powe and Sir Gant

Leon, what schools are recruiting you as of now?

"Cal, UNC, Arizona, Kentucky, Kansas, Florida, and Louisville. I have liked Duke ever since I was little, so I'm looking at Duke too."

What are you looking for in a school?

"Good quality basketball program, a good education, and where the people are cool, I don't like being anyplace where the people aren't cool."

What visits are you planning on taking?

"Probably first I'll go to North Carolina, then maybe Louisville. I'll take the Cal visit when I'm back home since it's close."

Who did you grow up trying to imitate on the court?

"It was Michael Jordan (laughing…), you know, people used to tell me, Jordan's a 2 guard, what's up, but I also like Chris Webber.

What do you need to work on?

"My footwork, running and jumping ability, and my quickness, like Darius Miles, I want to be able to get up and down the floor."

What are your goals this year academically?

"My goal is to get my grades up to a 3.5, they were like a 2.9 last year and so far this year about 3.0. I just got to keep studying, doing what I've been doing, I'll be good.

Coach Hodari McGavock

Coach, you came down here rated by some in the top 25, but you have lost twice in the tournament after leading, letting teams back in the game, what happened?

"We came down here, I think, a little overconfident. We've been playing in California and nobody has come within 27 points, basically just got big-headed. It's too bad, we've been in control and lost control. But I'm going to blame myself, it's my responsibility."

You've got one of the best big men in the country in Leon, who is just a junior, tell me how you are developing him?

"Leon has been with me for two years, and this is the first year I have given him a little latitude to handle the ball, display some of his other skills, but now he's starting to think he's a guard and I'm not happy about that, cause I think the mark of a good player is doing whatever his team needs, be it block shots, rebounds, whatever. Leon's a good kid though, I'm just going to have to get a little tougher on him."

What specific things are you working on with him?

"We've been working on a little jump hook from about ten feet and in, which he did today, and I was real happy to see. Also, going to his left and his footwork."

Well coach, you have a real good team, and I'm sure they will improve from this experience and I'm looking for you to compete for the state championship out in California.

"Well, that's our goal, and that's what we're shooting for, so this is just a stepping stone, a tune up for us to get there."

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