Powe aims to clear latest hurdle

Leon Powe knows all there is to know about adversity. In one month earlier this year, he not only lost his mother – but also tore his ACL.

Another thing Powe knows a lot about is loyalty, so don't expect the 6-8 ½, 220-pound Oakland Tech (Calif.) junior power forward to stray far from the Bay Area when he announces his college destination.

Powe tore his ACL in mid-April, but has already gotten clearance from doctors and has begun shooting in the last two weeks.

Powe, arguably the second-best player in the Class of 2003 and one of the hardest-working in the country, said that he may have overdone it on the court and that could have cost him.

"People were telling me to relax and I should have listened to them," Powe said. "I was playing 15-20 games in a week and that's probably what did it. I should have listened to the other people."

Powe is concentrating on his rehab rather than picking a college at this time. He'll miss the entire summer circuit, even though he's ahead of schedule, but may take a trip across the country to New Jersey for the ABCD Camp, anyway. The plan is for him to return to game action when Oakland Tech opens its season.

"I may go because I really like to see other people play," said Powe, who burst on the national scene last year at ABCD. "I'm a fan, too. After my games, I go to watch the other games."

Powe already has a strong relationship with the Cal staff and has played pickup games on campus over the years. He doesn't deny that the Golden Bears have the inside track, especially after everything he's gone through of late.

"Probably. Most likely," Powe responded when asked if Cal was the clear-cut leader. "I am very loyal."

But Powe also mentioned North Carolina, Kansas, Florida and Maryland while both Oakland Slam ‘N Jam coach Carl Foster, and his guardian, Bernard Ward, added Kentucky to that list. If Powe somehow opts to travel away from Oakland for college, the Tar Heels could be next in line.

Powe has managed to keep a positive mind through the recent adversity.

"He's really doing wonderful," said Ward. "He's so tough and I've been shocked by how well he's handled everything."

"Leon is the most determined kid I've ever seen," Foster added. "He wants it so bad since he's gotten a taste of it. He's found something he's good at and wants to succeed. Expect Leon Powe to be the national college player of the year before he leaves college."

Blessed with a ready-made NBA body, he started lifting weights for the first time in his life after the injury and has increased his bench-press from under 100 pounds to 220.

"I'm getting up there," he said. "At first, it was kinda hard for me. I was trying to do it when no one was looking because I was so embarrassed. My arms just weren't used to it."

Powe averaged 29.5 points and 14 rebounds this past season and led his team into the state title game, where they lost to St. Mary's.

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