Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A Taste at the Top

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A Taste at the Top

Article excerpt

After his junior year at Teaneck High School -- when his shoe size exploded from 9 to 13 -- everything changed. His wardrobe changed. His ability to leap above the rim changed.

His fate as a basketball player changed.

Kasib Powell was suddenly 6 inches taller, opening up doors that once were locked. It was this sudden, shocking growth spurt that may have nudged him on to an NBA roster.

Powell did not spend a lot of time in the NBA (11 games with the Miami Heat in 2008), but getting there allowed a kid from Teaneck to realize his dream.

"It was definitely one of those moments where you felt like all the hard work paid off," Powell said during a recent phone interview.

It didn't come easy. In high school, he couldn't get his SAT scores high enough to attend a four-year college. He enrolled in a junior college, and two years later, he was playing for Bobby Knight at Texas Tech.

"I always said I would never play for Bobby Knight," Powell said. "But once he comes to your campus and he's recruiting you and he's telling you, 'You're going to be on ESPN and CBS,' and all this other stuff, things change."

Powell said after playing for Knight, he could not have imagined playing for any other college coach.

"He was kind of a father figure to me," Powell said. "I learned a lot from him. And I didn't realize how much I learned from him until after I played."

He averaged 15.1 points per game during his two seasons with Texas Tech. His first year there, he remembers thinking that maybe the NBA was no longer such a long shot. After graduating, he played for the Minnesota Timberwolves' summer league team, then stayed with the club during the preseason.

As the regular season drew closer, Powell was called in for a meeting with coach Flip Saunders and owner Glen Taylor. They delivered the bad news. Powell said he was the final name lopped off the roster.

He remembers returning to his hotel room, where he cried for "four or five hours."

"At that time, it was the worst feeling I've ever felt before," Powell said. …

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