As the Gonzaga coaching staff continues to focus on building out a strong 2014 recruiting class, the one name that seems to always intrigue fans is Malik Pope. The 5* SF has been on the Gonzaga radar for a long time and has a skill set that is unique for a player his size.
Pope hasn't been able to make his mark on the AAU scene, as he is continuing to recover from an injury suffered during his junior season. According to his AAU Coach, LeRohn Dodson, Pope is getting closer to returning to action.
"He is rehabbing three times a week," Dodson explained. "His rehab is going well and he said that his leg is feeling stronger and better. We don't have a time-table, but right now we are hoping for him to be fully done with his rehab by the end of June."
While it's been frustrating that Pope hasn't been able to take the court, Dodson thinks the injury may prove to be a blessing.
"This injury has really humbled him and made him realize that everything can be taken away," said the Team Superstar coach. "He definitely feels blessed that he will get another chance to play. I hear a lot of maturity in his voice when we talk. I think the injury is going to put things into perspective and he will take advantage of opportunities."
As he gets ready to return to the court, Dodson already knows what parts of his game they will be working on.
"I think the biggest thing that I'd like to see him work on his post game," revealed Dodson. "Even with his size, he is a straight 3. Last summer he was 6'7 and now he is 6'9 and the doctors think he could still grow. I'd like to see him take advantage of his height and be able to post-up on smaller wings."
Even with his injury, recruiting has continued to stay strong for Pope. With that said, there are a few schools that are coming after him the hardest.
"In general I would say SDSU, Gonzaga, Kansas, Cal, Arizona, Louisville, Oregon, USC and Washington are coming the hardest. There are other schools that have offered like Miami, Texas, Georgetown and UCLA, but the other ones are coming the hardest."
Gonzaga has really been a steady presence in Malik's recruitment, with Donny Daniels continuing to take the lead.
"Coach Daniels has done a great job of recruiting Malik," Dodson explained. "He has done as good of a job as any coach and has established a relationship, which is reason why they are in there. He has stayed in contact and really developed that relationship. He has position Gonzaga to where they have a legitimate shot."
With a focus on academics, Pope is still awhile away from starting to take his official visits.
"He and I will sit and talk with his mom, but he definitely won't take any visits until the fall since he is currently in summer school," revealed Pope's AAU Coach. "Once school comes back in the Fall, he will set up some visits and come up with a list of schools."