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Powell brings professional experience to Eagles

Friday, December 7, 2007  
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By Tracy Washam

Prior to starting his college career in basketball, John Powell pitched in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system. The Oklahoma Christian University basketball player has quite an impressive athletic background.

“I played three years in the Cardinals organization as a pitcher making it to Class A ball, and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life,” Powell said.

Powell attended McGehee High School in Arkansas where he was a four-sport athlete lettering in baseball, basketball, football and track. He earned All District honors in all four sports and was named to the All-State team in each sport, except baseball. He also led his team to the state basketball tournament for the first time in 15 years in 2002, his senior year, as the only senior on the basketball team.

“I was the very last pick of the whole draft in 2002 in the 50th round. And then in 2003 I was picked in the 36th round out of Carl Albert State College,” Powell said. “I even received an award for it.”

Powell received the “Mr. Don’t Count Him Out” award given by MLB.com. The award is given to the last pick of the Major League Baseball draft each year. The annual award started in 1999 when that year’s last pick, Scott Leitz came up with the name for the award.

“I didn’t know that I would get drafted; it really was a surprise to me,” Powell said in an interview for MLB.com. “People said, ‘You’re supposed to be happy.’ They thought I should be jumping up and down or something, but it was very exciting.”

According to Powell’s high school coach, Jason Huggins, in an interview with MLB.com in 2002, Powell could hit 90 mph on the radar gun from the mound and had a 2.10 ERA. When he wasn’t pitching, Powell played right field. He hit .422 with six homers and displayed a tremendous arm in the field.

“He can throw 320 feet on a rope, on a line, no problem,” Huggins said. “Some scouts saw him and said Vlad [Guerrero] doesn’t even have an arm like that.”

Although Powell seemed to be more than an exceptional pick for the Cardinals, he went ahead and attended Carl Albert State College after high school for a year.

In 2003, Powell was then selected once again by the Cardinals in the 36th round, which he then accepted.

Powell played three years for the Cardinals minor league team before being released.

After his time pitching, Powell decided he wanted to go back to school.

“I was released and wanted to come back to school and play basketball instead of trying out for another club,” Powell said.

Powell attended Seminole State College to pursue basketball where he averaged 4.8 points per game and 4.7 rebounds per game.

“Although I did want to go back to school, going to class everyday instead of playing a baseball game everyday was something I had to get used to,” Powell said.

When asked which sport he prefers, Powell’s said basketball because it seems to fit his personality more.

“Basketball, it’s my first love and favorite sport,” Powell said. “Plus I’m a pretty intense guy who plays with a lot of intensity, and baseball is pretty laid back and more of a quiet game.”

Powell, now playing basketball for Oklahoma Christian, is in the process of recovering from a torn ACL which he sustained while at Seminole State.

He contributes under limited time but is very effective in the time he is given. The junior averages 1.29 points and 1.29 rebounds per game as he gradually increases his amount of playing time.

“John is not fully recovered yet, but he does his job when we put him in,” Oklahoma Christian men’s basketball coach Dan Hays said. “When he is fully healed, he is going to be an outstanding asset to the team.”

Although baseball might not be his first passion, Powell said he cannot ignore his talent in the sport and will try and give baseball another shot once he is finished with school.


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