After putting up 18 points and 10 rebounds per game as a senior at Huntsville (Ala.) High School, Powell spent a post-graduate year at IMG -- an elite training academy and prep school that has produced NBA alums such as Michael Beasley and Earl Clark.
Powell averaged 15 points and nine boards on a team with at least four other Division 1 recruits, drawing the attention of SU assistant Amadou "Pape" Koundoul. After meeting head coach Cameron Dollar, he decided to bring his multi-faceted game to the Emerald City.
REDHAWK NATION: Talk about your recruitment and how Seattle U entered the picture.
POWELL: My coach at IMG Academy (Loren Jackson) has a lot of connections. I had been talking to some schools in the Chicago area, and then Coach Pape from Seattle U started recruiting me. Coach Dollar came to a scrimmage and offered (a scholarship) after he saw me play, and I committed a couple of weeks after that.
What other schools were looking at you?
Eastern Illinois and Chicago State. When I was in high school in Alabama, I had LSU, West Virginia, Middle Tennessee State, Murray State and Tulane looking at me.
What made you choose Seattle U?
I like Coach Dollar. He's a real good coach, the kind of coach I need and that I was looking for. Plus, SU has the Business Management program I want to major in. Overall I felt like I could succeed here.
Growing up in Alabama, how did you gravitate to basketball over football?
I don't know, I just always liked basketball more. Football wasn't my thing. I was good at it -- don't get me wrong. People always would tell me that with my speed and athleticism I could've been a D1 football player, but I didn't play in high school. I don't even watch football, really. I know some people who go to Alabama, Auburn and LSU, so I'll watch them play, but football never really interested me.
How did you end up at IMG Academy?
When I graduated high school, I was still 17 years old and people around me were saying I should do a post-graduate year to get bigger and stronger. I agreed with them. I don't think at the time I was college-ready physically. In high school, I weighed 206. Now I weigh about 215. I'm also more athletic and more explosive than I was in high school.
What is is like at IMG?
There are a lot of students there. It goes from eighth grade through high school, with four post-graduate teams: boys basketball, girls basketball, tennis and soccer. A lot of the kids are living away from home, like I was. I lived on campus.
We traveled a lot. We played in Arizona, Chicago, a lot of places. We played against JUCO teams and other prep schools. I think I got most of my development playing against JUCOs, because those are high-level players who just maybe didn't have the grades to go to a D1 school right away. And there are a lot of good players in Florida. Our coach was real tough on us. The things that I was shaky on, he helped me tighten them up, like my ball-handling and my shooting. He helped make me more of a finesse finisher, because I always wanted to muscle through everybody.
Satnam Singh, the 7-foot teenager who is being called India's Yao Ming, goes to IMG. Did you run across him there? What's he like as a player?
He's humongous. We didn't play on the same team since he's still in high school and I was post-grad. He's an alright player, but he needs some work. If he wants to play D1, he's gotta pick up his foot speed.
What are your strengths on the court?
I just try to do as much as I can to win. I can rebound, shoot, pass. I can finish plays. I'm not perfect at any one thing, but I can do a lot of things well. I'm not LeBron by any means, but I like to play the way he plays -- being able to play multiple positions and do a little bit of everything. The hardest guys for me to guard are, like, really quick point guards and really solid big men, but overall I can guard anybody from 6-3 to 6-8.
What's your natural position?
I'd say small forward. I can dribble, but I don't dribble well enough yet to be a two-guard on the college level. I can shoot pretty well. I'm not Ray Allen on the three-point line, but I can shoot.
You seem really humble.
That's because I've had to work for everything I have. Nothing has come easy.
You mentioned LeBron, but are there other NBA players you look up to or pattern your game after?
In high school, I used to pattern my game after LeBron because I was so much bigger, stronger and faster than everybody. But now, I like Kevin Durant. He scores in multiple ways. LeBron is still the best, but KD is who I model my scoring after. But I still want to get stats in every other area like LeBron as far as rebounds, assists, steals and blocks.
How do you think you'll fit into Coach Dollar's system?
It's an up-tempo system like we had at IMG. We can all run -- our big men can run with our guards. I think I can help with my defense, too. I know I'm an alright defensive player. I've got to get better, but eventually I want to be able to lock people down.
Do you expect to play a big role in your freshman year?
From talking to the coaches, I think I can play a pretty big role, and I think that's what Coach Dollar is hoping for, too.
Right now I'm just getting adjusted to college life; it's different from high school. I'm taking another step into being a man. Now I only have four years to make it, and if I don't, basketball is over for me. So I'm going to be out here working hard.
You've been playing in the summer league at North Seattle Community College, right?
Yeah, me and CT (Clarence Trent) and Shore (Adenekan) are on the same team. Other teams in the league have two or three Seattle U guys. Our first game we played against Isaiah Thomas and Matthew Bryan-Amaning from UW. I've been doing alright; nothing spectacular yet.
What do you envision for yourself and for the team this upcoming season?
It's too early for me to tell. I don't want to go in with high hopes stats-wise just to get shot down. I have to see where I fit first. I just want to win. Winning is the most important thing.
When I play pickup, I have to choose when to be real competitive, because I won't have any fun since I can't stand losing. During the season people will be like, "It's alright, we'll win the next game." No, we gotta win this game. 'Next games' are done after a while -- you'll look up and the season is over. So why not take care of business today?
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