New Mexico State recruit Pope injured in shooting

PITTSBURGH -- One of Pennsylvania's top high school basketball players, who signed a letter of intent with New Mexico State University, was hospitalized with injuries from a shooting early Saturday, officials said.

Aliquippa High School senior Herb Pope, 18, a three-time first team all-state player, was shot twice in the lower abdomen, once in the left lower arm and once in the thigh around 3 a.m., Aliquippa Police Chief Ralph Pallante said.

"From what the detectives told me, [the injuries] didn't appear to be, at this time, life-threatening," he said.

The 6-foot-9 center told police that he was shot at a party in Aliquippa, but did not know who shot him or why they shot him, Pallante said.

Pope, who was dropped off at Aliquippa Community Hospital and walked into the hospital's emergency department, was stabilized and flown to UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh, where he underwent surgery Saturday morning, Pallante said.

Linda Reed, a spokeswoman for the hospital, declined to confirm that Pope was at the hospital.

Calls to a phone number believed to be that of Pope's residence were not answered.

NMSU head coach Reggie Theus issued a statement Saturday saying he is hopeful Pope can make a full recovery.

"This goes way beyond basketball," Theus said. "It is way too early to know a lot right now, we just hope that he is OK."

Pope averaged 19 points per game this season while leading Aliquippa to the WPIAL Class AA championship and a runner-up finish in the PIAA tournament.

He had been scheduled to fly Saturday to Chicago, where he was to play in Tuesday's Roundball Classic, an all-star game featuring many of the top prep players in the country.

Pope last appeared with Aliquippa on March 24, when the team lost 68-66 to Prep Charter of Philadelphia in the PIAA Class AA championship game at Penn State University.