Friday, April 21, 2006

Leon Powe drives to the rim

Leon Powe will enter the NBA draft (probably) and I'm so glad for him. I've watched Leon play since he was a Sophmore from Oakland Tech playing—and dominating—in the SF ProAm league. I've watched him at Oakland Tech and at Cal, and there've been times when I wondered if he wasn't another kid whose dreams were cut short by bum knees. But he's overcome so much and come so far. And now it looks like his knee will be OK.

I have my issues with Ben Braun and his rigid system. I don't really think Leon has much to gain basketball-wise by staying at Cal. I mean, come on, can't they run him off a screen just once? Not in Braun's world, apparently.

But getting into Cal was his reward for focusing on hoops and books and staying clear of all the other troubles in his world. Going to Cal meant getting his first ACL operation—probably a botch job by some rookie intern at Highland Hospital(??)—fixed by the best possible surgeons. Going to Cal meant getting an education that will keep him from ever falling back into the desperate world he grew up in. I just read a great story about his past, The Making of Leon Powe that tells his story better than any I'd read before. It's long, but check it out.

I really am looking forward to seeing him selected in the first round. No one could possibly be more deserving. Anyone who's only seen Leon play for Cal, you have no idea how good this kid really is. Once he stops hesitating with that giddyup gallop run of the past year and returns to his pre-knee surgery form, watch out. This was a kid who had dreams of going pro after his junior year in High School. If his ACL hadn't cut him down then, I have to wonder if it might not have gone down that way. Four years later, I hope we get to see that Leon Powe dominating in the NBA.

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