What Will Become Of Herb Pope?

New Mexico State's biggest recruit has options with Theus leaving

June 20, 2007

By Van Coleman

CSTV.com & Hoopmasters.com


Van Coleman

Van is one of the nation's premier recruiting experts.
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No. 33-rated Herb Pope is in a tough position but has teams drooling over such a talent this late in the game.


It's just another example of what a wacky year it's been in recruiting.


Pope averaged 19 points, 11 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 2.3 blocks and 3.3 steals a game in helping Aliquippa (Penn.) win its second consecutive WPIAL Class AA championship in his senior season. They lost in the PIAA championship to Philadelphia Prep Charter, which has Markief and Marcus Morris, the twins signed with Memphis.




In the New York Times this past weekend, Pope said he signed with New Mexico State because he wants to get away from Aliquippa. It's a long ways and a shocker on paper until you hear the young man's story.


After a tumultuous upbringing and bouncing from high school to high school, he was struck with four bullets back in April. Not only was he struck, he thought he would die.


Since that time, Pope has recovered and is now playing and even dunking the ball.


But it wasn't that unfortunate moment that caused him to head so far away to New Mexico State. He committed last year and signed in the fall, way before that happened.


At one point he committed to Pittsburgh but opened things back up to include a list of Maryland, Memphis, Oklahoma, Kansas State and his eventual choice of the Aggies and coach Reggie Theus.


However, Reggie Theus has decided to move on to the NBA's Sacramento Kings and Pope is scheduled to start summer school next week down in Las Cruces.


As it is with most kids, they sign for the coach.


He may wait to see if somebody with the staff gets bumped up to take Theus' spot, but if he doesn't, a couple of possible suitors are out there and we're here to preview who we think would get involved with this impact freshman.


Certainly a school that missed out on Patrick Patterson will be all over him, that being the national champion Florida Gators. They're losing a ton and bringing in a top three class, but such a versatile talent would only help them fill a void left by the championship core.


Even the winner of the Patterson sweepstakes will likely be on him - you can bet Kentucky wouldn't mind landing another player of that caliber considering it's rebuilding under new head coach Billy Gillispie.


Kansas State and West Virginia are other suitors that immediately jump to mind. Frank Martin and Bob Huggins took the head jobs at those schools, but if we think back just a few years ago, they were together at Cincinnati and Pope was one of their priorities for the 2007 class along with O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker. They continued to recruit Pope when they left Cincinnati to go to Kansas State and it would be expected that Huggins would do the same now at West Virginia as Martin would at Kansas State.


Schools from his previous list like Memphis and Oklahoma have had some recent departures that would free up a scholarship. Memphis lost Kareem Cooper and Tre'von Willis while Oklahoma lost Bobby Maze.


Pittsburgh might have to be thrown into the mix as one to consider as well. He did commit there at one point as we mentioned.


There's always the wildcard of teams that just lost players to the NBA Draft.


Georgia Tech comes to mind losing Thaddeus Young and Javaris Crittenton. Oklahoma State unexpectedly lost JamesOn Curry, but he hasn't hired an agent and could return to school.


So those are some schools that may chase Herb Pope if he decides to opt for his release of his letter of intent with New Mexico State. We just hope this young man is pleased with whatever decision he makes and that his life can take a positive turn for the future. Hopefully the game of basketball can take him to a place where he is happy as it has for so many others.