Powe picks Cal

Oakland Tech's standout will stay close to home and gives the Bears their biggest hometown catch since Jason Kidd.

He may be spending the summer rehabbing an injured knee, but the headlines are still coming for Oakland Tech basketball star Leon Powe. The Cal-Hi Sports State Junior Player of the Year for 2002 – not to mention one of the top three or four recruiting prizes for the Class of 2003 – announced this week he'll sign a letter of intent in November with the nearby Cal Bears.

Powe could still change his mind leading into November, but it's not likely. He seems to have a strong desire to stay close to his little brothers and sisters, especially after undergoing the trauma of having his biological mother die during the 2002 playoffs in March.

"I just wanted to give back to my community," Powe told the Oakland Tribune's David Schoen. "I'm going to have a lot of support going to Cal. I wanted to stay close to my family, my little brothers and sisters to help them grow up, too."

LeBron James of Ohio, who like Powe also is rehabbing an injured knee this summer, is widely acclaimed as the nation's top player heading into 2003 and will likely jump straight into the NBA. Would Powe consider the same? That's not as likely as the 6-8 junior probably needs to bulk up to become more of a pro prospect as a power forward and would need to add a better mid-range jumper to become more of a pro prospect as a small forward.

Before settling on Cal, it had been reported that Powe had narrowed his choices down to Cal, North Carolina, Maryland and Kansas.

Powe averaged 27 points and 13 rebounds per game last season in leading Oakland Tech to the Div. I state finals, where the Bulldogs lost to Westchester of Los Angeles.

Cal landed S.F. Bay Area standout Marquise Kately from Riordan of San Francisco last year, but the Bears won't get Kately for a year as he's heading off to a prep school to improve himself academically. The Bears also are among the favorites to land 6-2 guard Ayinde Ubaka of Oakland High to go with Powe. Ubaka is one of the top guards on the West Coast and has improved his stock this summer.

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