Cal's Powe to stay in NBA draft
The NCAA rules that prevent underclassmen from accepting money from NBA teams for workouts claimed another player.
Cal's Leon Powe told ESPN.com on Tuesday that he will sign with agent Aaron Goodwin so he can fully participate in the draft process.
"I just needed some professional help since the NCAA doesn't allow me to do that without breaking the rules," the 6-foot-8-inch redshirt sophomore power forward said. Powe averaged 20.5 points, 10.1 rebounds in leading the Bears to the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Powe sat out the 2004-05 season after major ACL surgery. He was the Pac-10 freshman of the year in 2003-04.
Powe was told on April 18 by his orthopedist, Colorado physician Dr. Richard Steadman, who performed the surgery on Powe two years ago, that his knee was as strong as ever. That dose of good news was the impetus for Powe to declare and, according to him Tuesday, "99.9 percent of the decision," to stay in the draft.
"I'm able to make a push into the top 10," said Powe, who is projected now to land anywhere from mid-first round to high-second round, although that could change with more workouts. Powe said he has worked out for the Los Angeles Lakers as well as an open workout in suburban Los Angeles for any team that was interested. He said he has scheduled a workout at Portland and has an East Coast trip planned. The trip might not have gone off had he not made the decision to sign with an agent.
"I can go anywhere I want now," Powe said. "This will give me more of an opportunity. I played last season healthy and averaged 20 and 10 and was a second-team all-American."
Powe said he plans on playing at the Orlando pre-draft camp June 6-10. Last week he was against going to play because of the fear that big men don't receive the ball enough from point guards who may be trying to do too much at the camp.
The reviews from Powe's workout in Los Angeles were mixed. A number of scouts raved about his strength, power game and overall toughness. But there was some concern over his true height and his ability to hit a mid- to deeper-range shot. Still, he has a chance to climb in a wide-open draft.
Powe's decision to stay in the draft is becoming more common for underclassmen who don't want to go through the draft process of paying for their own expenses or risk jeopardizing their eligibility. Already, Rutgers' Quincy Douby, Texas' P.J. Tucker, Missouri's Thomas Gardner, Bradley's Patrick O'Bryant, Florida State's Alexander Johnson and Iowa State's Will Blalock have gone from saying they would keep their options open to signing with agents. Memphis' Darius Washington and Shawne Williams should be next to officially sign with agents.
Cal will lean heavily on 6-11 rising junior DeVon Hardin (7.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg) in Powe's absence. The Bears also return senior guard Ayinde Ubaka, the team's second-leading scorer (14.5 ppg).
"There are still a lot of good players," Powe said of the Bears. "Those two will be impact for them next season."
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.