For Pope; It's All About Dixon, Pitt

From the moment the basketball recruiting staff laid eyes on Herb Pope, they instantaneously fell in love with him.

"The big fella can flat out play," analyst Dave Telep said at the time of Herb Pope's commitment. "He's mobile inside, can score with his back to the basket and makes face-ups. At this point, you have to consider Pope's commitment one of the more significant underclassman additions of the season."

Luckily for Pitt fans, head coach Jamie Dixon and his staff fell in love with Pope first and it's that relationship that will more than likely send the highly regarded power forward to Pittsburgh.

"The coaching staff at Pitt," Pope stated in an interview. "They've been with me from the start, especially Coach Dixon. That's why I want to go there."

Pope projects as a PF
at the next level
The options being open are most likely because Pope has heard the rumors about Dixon and his staff possibly not being there, but after a 10-0 start by the Panthers, that seems highly unlikely to say the least.

"They are playing real, real good," Pope said. "They are a lot more athletic than some of the other teams they've had. They are gonna surprise some people - I think."

Pope, who played his freshman year at Montrose Christian (Md.), averaged 17.8 points and 11 boards this past season at Aliquippa as a sophomore and is back to dominating play again.

Pope, who is currently averaging a double-double, has teamed with 6-foot-6 forward Jonathan Baldwin to push Aliquippa's record to 6-2 and 3-0 in sectional play.

In its most recent matchup, Pope and Baldwin combined for 36 points in defeating Class AAAA Seneca Valley, 66-52. Pope had 22 points and 14 rebounds in the win.

"I'm playing well," Pope stated. "I think I've matured a little bit after the summer camps and think my game's gotten a lot more disciplined. I'm trying my best to keep a level head, I think at times, I get a little ahead of myself - try to do too much - and don't let the game come to me."

Currently rated #3 at his
position for class of 2007
Pope could point to a recent contest where he was ejected as a 'learning experience,' for himself. Because of the ejection, he had to sit out one game, as part of the WPIAL rules.

The 'Quips, meanwhile, hope to continue its recent success. Alquippa has played in the last two WPIAL Championships, winning the title in 2004.

"I'm just trying to get a little more stronger and continue to work on my game," Pope said. "I'm trying to improve every day."

Louisville recently came to watch Pope play and although he insists he's still very much 'for Pitt', he acknowledges he's still listening, just in case.

"They are still number one with me," Pope explained. "I just want to keep my options open, just in case."

Pope averaged 10.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game this summer. According to Telep, that does not tell the whole story.

"Forget the numbers, it was the manner in which he accumulated his points that stood out," Telep wrote. "At 6-foot-8+, he handled the ball, made a few mid-range shots and was a beast inside. He will battle, and he uses all kinds of craftiness. He'll use length and he'll use power to get it past you."

Some quotes used in this article are from previous articles from Dave Telep. Comments are from an earlier interview with Pope

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