Oakland Tribune, The (CA)
May 24, 2006
Section: Sports San Mateo
Powe Goes to the Pros for Some Dough
BERKELEY -- Convinced he is ready for the NBA but will need every advantage before the June 28 draft, Cal sophomore Leon Powe hired an agent Tuesday and made his departure from college basketball official.
Powe, who led the Pac-10 Conference in scoring and rebounding this season, signed with Oakland sports agent Aaron Goodwin and is ready to move forward at full speed.
"If I was going to try to better myself in the draft, I needed to make a move," said the 22-year-old Oakland Tech High graduate. "I think it's going to start getting hectic, and that's when the money part started coming in."
Goodwin, whose clients include Oakland native Gary Payton, has arranged for Powe to work out for the Portland Trail Blazers this week, then to travel east for workouts next week.
Powe, a 6-foot-7 power forward, canceled a planned workout Tuesday with the Warriors.
"I didn't want to get worn out," said Powe, who already has worked out for the Los Angeles Lakers and for an assortment of scouts in a separate Southern California session. "I'm going to go in there with my best."
Powe originally put his name into thedraft without hiring an agent, which allowed him the option of withdrawing by the June 18 deadline. By signing with an agent and accepting financial help, he disqualifies himself from returning to college ball.
The choice of Goodwin was a bit of a surprise, if only because Powe has been close since the ninth grade with Calvin Andrews, who works for Bill Duffy's rival Bay Area-based agency.
Goodwin's past clients have included Jason Kidd and LeBron James, and in 2004 he was rated by Sports Illustrated as the No.8 most influential minority in sports. "I just thought he was the best fit for me," Powe said.
Powe is hoping to move up to a top-10 position, but projections for him are mixed, ranging from the middle of the first round to early in the second. Only first-round NBA picks earn guaranteed contracts.
Although Powe said the feedback he's gotten from workouts so far has generally been good, he knows anything can happen on draft day.
"If I get picked in the first (round), that's very good," he said. "If I don't, I made the decision, and I've got to make the best of it."
Questions about Powe generally focus on either his height or the condition of his twice surgically repaired left knee. Powe was listed at 6-8 during his Cal career but may be an inch or so shorter. His Colorado-based surgeon, Dr. Richard Steadman, examined Powe's knee after the season and pronounced it entirely sound.
Cal coach Ben Braun expects Powe to be a success in the NBA.
"When you've got a 7-foot-4 wingspan and his heart and tenacity, it doesn't matter what his height is," Braun said. "Obviously, we're going to miss Leon in a lot of ways. I'm just happy for the opportunity he has."
Powe excels down on the block, but can also step out to hit the mid-range jumper. A McDonald's and first-team Parade All-American at nearby Oakland Tech HS, he is the most highly acclaimed recruit to play under Braun at Cal.
He originally hurt his knee in April after his junior year of high school, undergoing reconstructive surgery, but returned to play a full season as a senior. After a normal postseason physical in the spring of 2004, doctors noted he needed to have the knee operated on again. Powe had the first of two surgeries April 21 (bone graft) and the second operation (reconstructive) in the two-part procedure Sept. 8.
He was cleared for full contact May 26, 2005, and went on to be named MVP of the 2005San Francisco Pro-Am league where he averaged 33 ppg and 11 rpg. In 2003-04 Powe earned Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and All-Pac-10 honors, becoming the first freshman in the history of the league to lead the Pac-10 in rebounding. He was also the first Golden Bear freshman to be named team MVP and pace Cal in both scoring and rebounding since Shareef Abdur-Rahim in 1995-96.
In his final season, Powe led the Pac-10 in scoring (20.5 ppg) and rebounding (10.1 rpg) last season. He set a Pac-10 tournament record with 20 rebounds in one game in March of 2006.