The Pope is scheduled to visit Hawaii.
Austin Pope, that is.
The 6-foot-6 point guard at North Idaho College announced his verbal commitment to play for UH and coach Benjy Taylor on Wednesday, the first received by UH for the 2015-16 season. He said he plans to visit UH after the Final Four, around April 10 to 12.
Pope has two years of eligibility remaining.
“I am sold on Coach Taylor and the program,” said Pope, of Burbank, Calif. “I want the (recruitment) process over and I feel very good about the direction of the program under Coach Benjy. I have friends on the team and I think we can contend for championships year in and year out. I love (their) style of play.”
Pope knows Aaron Valdes well. The two had a shared stop at La Jolla Prep Academy.
Pope averaged 12.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 16 games at the end of the 2014-15 season, shooting 46.5 percent from the field, 31.4 percent on 3-pointers and 60.9 percent at the free-throw line. He couldn’t play the first half of the season as a transfer from Cerritos (Calif.) College. His game-by-game statistics are here.
Asked to describe his own game, Pope said: “Very versatile. I am a point, but I shoot the ball well enough to play the 2 and in college I think I can play some 3.”
Here’s a 10-minute highlight montage from his 2013-14 season at Cerritos.
Pope said he had interest from Utah, Creighton, Missouri, TCU and Wichita State.
Of course, Taylor’s long-term status with UH is still uncertain, even with the interim coach optimistic about David Matlin‘s introduction as new athletic director on Wednesday (more on that in Thursday’s edition of the Star-Advertiser). Matlin, in turn, sounded appreciative of the on-court season UH put together under Taylor in 2014-15.
Pope was asked what he will do if Taylor does not get the permanent job.
“I’m not sure but I’m dedicated to Benjy and the players currently so we’ll make it happen,” he said.
UH currently has two scholarships to award with Garrett Nevels and Brandon Jawato the only outgoing players, for now. Correction: UH has four, including those assigned to Isaac Fotu and Sammis Reyes. It’ll be interesting to see if all can be handed out, however, with the APR hit UH took by their early departures.
Besides a guard, Taylor has spoken of a need for a strong rebounder and physical interior presence.
The spring signing period opens on April 15.
The UH basketball job was officially posted on the UH website today. It will remain up until April 13.
You can check it out here.
The Rainbow Warriors’ postseason awards banquet/fundraiser on April 29 is also open for sign-ups. You can find the form here; it needs to be returned by April 22. Team secretary Bobbie Omoto is your go-to contact for banquet-related questions at 956-6501.
Individual tickets are $150 while whole tables start at $1,500.