Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
For the second time this month, sophomore forward Herb Pope was denied a waiver from the NCAA that would have enabled him to play at Seton Hall this year.
“The NCAA Subcommittee of Legislative Relief has upheld the staff decision to deny the transfer waiver request for Seton Hall men’s basketball student athlete Herb Pope,” read a statement from the NCAA and Seton Hall. “This denial of the transfer year-in-residence waiver was based on case precedent and the intent of the legislation. The 6-foot-8, 235-pound Pope will be eligible to practice with the Pirates this season, but won’t see game action until 2009-10.”
Pope’s initial request for a waiver that would have enabled him to play for the 2008-09 season was denied earlier this month. Seton Hall then appealed, leading to the second denied request.
“I came here with the intent of sitting out this season,” Pope, a native of Aliquippa, Pa., said last week, before the latest decision was handed down. “I hope that they understand my problems and what’s going on, but everybody told me before coming here that it’s not very likely, that they don’t give out very many waivers, and I understood that.”
Seton Hall, which currently has eight eligible players, still plans to submit a waiver request for junior guard Keon Lawrence of Newark, who transferred from Missouri because of his own family problems. He could be eligible in December if a waiver were granted.
Pope transferred from New Mexico State and was hoping to play this year because of extenuating circumstances related to his family.
“It’s a lot of family problems going on, some things that I don’t care to talk about and some things that most everybody already knows about, the gunshot and everything going on in my past,” Pope said. “You can’t go back home because of some of those reasons. It’s a few other things that’s going on, that I really care to keep close to the family.”
In the spring of 2007, Pope was shot four times at a party by Marcus Longmire after an argument broke out at a party. Tremayne Foster, one of Longmire’s friends, wanted a ride home, but Pope’s friends declined because they didn’t know him. Pope punched Foster, and Longmire then began shooting Pope. Two bullets hit Pope and remained lodged in his body. After covering his face with his left forearm, a third bullet hit Pope in the arm. He ultimately fled down a 20-foot embankment and hitched a ride to a hospital.
Police charged Longmire with attempted homicide, two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of simple assault and a firearms violation. He plead guilty last December to attempted homicide and was sentenced to six to 16 years in prison. Understandably, it may not be entirely safe for Pope to return home.
“Its not safe in the actual city of Pittsburgh,” Pope said. “Every time I go to the city of Pittsburgh that’s where people that I run into are gang members. I just stay in Aliquippa. The kid [Longmire] just has a couple relatives in Aliquippa so it’s not that bad of a problem in Aliquippa.”
Pope says he returns to Aliquippa periodically to check on his daughter and siblings, who are living with family members.
“I’ve been going back and forth,” he said. “I’ve probably been home four times now since I’ve been here, pretty much every other weekend. It’s been fine. I go home, make sure my brothers and sisters and my daughter are fine, have food and clothes in the house and everything.”
Seton Hall, meanwhile, is still awaiting word on whether 6-11 freshman Melvyn “Big Mel” Oliverhas been cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse.
In other Seton Hall news, 6-7 combo forward Arsalan Kazemi of The Patterson (N.C.) School is taking his official visit this weekend to Rice. He will then visit Maryland next weekend. Kazemi took his first official to Seton Hall last weekend but did not commit. Stay tuned for more on him….
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.