ELK GROVE, CA – Malik Pope, the heralded prospect from Elk Grove’s Laguna Creek High School, once regarded as one of the nation’s top high school basketball athletes, signed a letter of intent to play at San Diego State.
Pope autographed his letter of intent during a District signing on Wednesday morning, alongside 12 other athletes from seven high schools in the Elk Grove area.
The 6-foot-8 Pope, who was ranked by Rivals as the nation’s No. 17 player, heads to the Aztecs as the highest touted high school product in the program’s history.
Last February, Pope suffered a a freak injury which caused him to miss the rest of the season. During a layup drill, he went up for a dunk, but his left tibia broke underneath him.
In September, it happened again. During an exhibition game in Natomas, Pope again crumbled after attempting to leap during warmups. His left leg, broken again, ending his senior year before the season even tipped off.
“Man, that was one of the hardest experiences of my life, to happen twice,” Pope told News10. “Man, and miss my whole senior year. I ain’t got a choice but to make the good out of it though, because if I make the bad (from the setback), I’m losing.”
Despite the setbacks from the two freak injuries, Pope, who never had surgery to his leg, remained one the nation’s top recruits. He was lured by nine finalist programs: Kansas, UCLA, USC, Arizona, Oregon, Gonzaga, Washington, and Cal.
After much thought, Pope wanted to join the Aztecs and join four other Sacramento area players who currently play for San Diego State under head coach Steve Fisher.
While Pope will not play this season, he’s walking without crutches, and has been for the past two weeks.
Below is a list of Sacramento area prep athletes who signed letters of intent on Wednesday:
Sacramento: Ayanna Edwards – Arizona St. – Women’s Basketball
Sacramento: Chaya Durr – UC Santa Barbara – Women’s Basketball
Sacramento: Zonyia Cormier – Cal Poly – Women’s Basketball
Sacramento: Simone Sheppard – UNLV – Women’s Basketball
Sacramento: Najah Queenland – Pacific – Women’s Basketball
Monterey Trail: Jasmine Redmon – Hawaii – Women’s Basketball
Florin: Dalayna Sampton – Hawaii – Women’s Basketball
Elk Grove: Derek Hill – Oregon – Baseball
Elk Grove: Morgan Evangelista – Bowling Green – Softball
Cosumnes Oaks: Julia Morales – Oakland University – Softball
Pleasant Grove: Sarah Debnekoff – Morehead St. – Golf
Pleasant Grove:Martin Gonzalez – Dominican Univ. – Soccer
Pleasant Grove: Marissa Maligad – Sac State – Softball
Pleasant Grove: Vanessa Washington – Delaware St. – Softball
Pleasant Grove: Aaliyah Pena – U.C. Riverside – Women’s Basketball
Sheldon: Anessa Kaylor – San Jose St. – Softball
Sheldon:Zamari Hinton – Sac State – Softball
Christian Brothers: Brandon Hunley – Sac State – Baseball
Christian Brothers: Haley Snyder – Stanford – Softball
Oak Ridge: Josh Wellman – Penn St. – Lacrosse
Oak Ridge: Lindsey Zito – Humboldt St. – Softball
Oak Ridge: Caitlyn Olan – San Bernardino – Softball
Oak Ridge: Austin Root – Sac State – Baseball
Bella Vista: Sara Hibbs – San Jose St – Volleyball
Bella Vista: Brayden Gomez – Abilene Christian – Baseball
Marysville: Brina Buttacavoli – Utah St. – Softball
St. Francis: Anna Baytosh – Chico St. – Volleyball
St. Francis: Karson Bisharat – Central Arizona – Volleyball
St. Francis: Lea Felton – Hawaii Pacific – Volleyball
St. Francis: Alejandra Garcia – Cal Poly – Softball
St. Francis: Hannah Gasser – San Diego St. – Crew
St. Francis:Chole Hakim – UC Irvine – Volleyball
St. Francis: Jacqueline Holben – Cal – Crew
St. Francis: Maddison Johnson – TCU – Swimming
St. Francis: Sophie Kershaw – Georgetown – Crew
St. Francis: Ali Koumelis – Portland – Volleyball
St. Francis: Emily Laskin – Navy – Golf
St. Francis: AnnClaire MacArt – Dartmouth – Swimming
St. Francis: Alexis Martinez – Seattle – Swimming
St. Francis: Noa Nightingale – UC Santa Barbara – Volleyball
St. Francis: Nina Obaldia – Cal – Crew
St. Francis: Jullisa Romani – San Diego – Crew
St. Francis: Megan Sullivan – UC Santa Barbara – Volleyball
Granite Bay: Vinny Esposito – Sac State – Baseball
Granite Bay: Devin Lehman – Sac State – Baseball
Granite Bay: Mitch Hart – USC – Baseball
Granite Bay: Connor Briare – Loyola – Baseball
Granite Bay: Taylor Nelson – Cal Poly – Volleyball
Granite Bay: Maddy Deters – Concordia-Irvine – Volleyball
Del Campo: Sam Long – Sac State – Baseball
Rocklin: Ryan Smith – Sac State – Baseball
Woodland Christian: Anthony Castaneda – Sac State – Baseball
Valley Christian: Jeremiah Moore – Sac State – Baseball
Vanden: Mariah Williams – Nevada-Reno – Women’s Basketball
By Sean Cunningham, SCunningham@News10.net