April 26, 2004
At this point in the college basketball offseason, you don't expect many news flashes that will have a major impact on the start of the 2004-05 campaign.
Well, make a call out to Berkeley, California, and ask Cal coach Ben Braun how he feels about the recent news regarding knee surgery for one of his premier players, freshman forward Leon Powe.
Powe is expected to be out until late December -- about the time the Pac-10 schedule starts -- or maybe even longer.
On paper, the Golden Bears have a very impressive group coming back. This past season, Powe was one of the nation's premier diaper dandies. The Pac-10 rookie of the year, Powe led the league in rebounding, grabbing 9.5 boards per game (plus 15.1 ppg).
Powe has had some tough luck in his young career. He had reconstructive knee surgery in the spring of 2002 after his junior season at Oakland Tech High School, but he returned to become a McDonald's All-American his senior year.
Powe's most recent surgery, a bone graft on his left knee, is the first part of a lengthy process. Next comes reconstructive surgery and then six months of rehab and healing.
I wish Powe nothing but the best. He's one of the most influential interior scorers and rebounders in the Pac-10. You never know, but happenings in the offseason can influence the regular season. Let's hope for a speedy recovery for Powe.
Dick Vitale coached the Detroit Pistons and the University of Detroit in the 1970s before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979 (he's been an ESPN analyst ever since). Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.