Basketball: Taylor Harrison is done

No surprise here, but redshirt sophomore center Taylor Harrison confirmed to me this morning that his Cal basketball career is over.

Unable to play the past two seasons because of a left knee injury that still causes him pain every day, the 6-foot-10 native of San Clemente said all that’s left to do to officially exit the program is some paperwork.

“I am done with my basketball career, unfortunately,” Harrison said by phone from his family’s home. “I talked to three doctors from all over and they said it would be best for my knee if I didn’t play Division I basketball any longer just because of the day-to-day impact.

“It’s sad because in December I was ready to go. My knee felt great. Then something happened and on Dec. 22 I got an MRI. They said it didn’t look so hot. They talked to some other doctors, and they agreed.”

Harrison underwent surgery in March 2007 after his freshman season and again in June 2008 to repair cartilage damage in the knee. The December MRI showed what doctors described to him as  “extensive and accelerated cartilage damage.”

Doctors then removed fluid from the knee as one more way to evaluate the state of things.  “They said if there’s cartilage in this fluid, I probably shouldn’t play any longer,” Harrison said. “They pulled out 30ccs of fluid and there was a bunch of cartilage in it. It’s just breaking down. There isn’t much they can do.”

When the paperwork is complete, giving Harrison a medical retirement, the basketball program will recoup one scholarship. Harrison said he will return to school in the fall to continue work on a double major of American studies and  art practice.

I’ll have more later on Harrison’s long fight to jump-start his basketball career and how he plans to fill the void in his life.


Cal football: Elite 11

Cal hosted one of the regional camps for the Elite 11 quarterback competition yesterday at Memorial Stadium. There were 57 participants, including Austin Hinder from Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Hinder has an offer from Cal. Jake Heaps, considered by many to be the nation’s top quarterback prospect, was not there. Heaps also has an offer from Cal and is believed to be strongly considering Washington, BYU and the Bears. Heaps is from the Seattle area.

One other notable name in attendance was Oaks Christian High School’s Nick Montana, the son of former NFL great Joe Montanta.


Basketball: USC situation becoming a quagmire

So, what do we make of what is happening at USC?

And what’s likely to come down the pike in the wake of the latest set of allegations, reported in a Yahoo! Sports story late Tuesday, claiming that basketball coach Tim Floyd delivered at least $1,000 to a middleman who aided in the recruitment of ex-Trojans star O.J. Mayo?

On the heels of a long and still unresolved investigation into former USC football star Reggie Bush, who allegedly accepted  thousands of dollars while his family failed to pay rent on a home owned by a marketer, this is a tough time for the Trojans.

Here’s the Yahoo! Sports story, along with the most recent Los Angeles Times reporting on the subject.

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Cal football: Spring review — special teams

HELPED HIS CAUSE: Giorgio Tavecchio. With incoming freshman Vince D’Amato set to compete in the fall and David Seawright continuing his comeback from injury, Tavecchio did himself a big favor by having a terrific spring. His work in the weight room has obviously paid off, as Tavecchio routinely boomed long field goals and his kickoffs went further than last season. Seawright is progressing slowly, Tavecchio appears to be the favorite in the fall.

WORK TO DO: Seawright. He didn’t start attempting field goals until the latter part of spring practice, but looked pretty sharp once he started. Seawright still has yet to resume kicking off. It’s a long way back with his healthy history, but the time in between spring and fall camp should help. If he’s substantially more healthy in the fall, it could make for an extremely compelling competition.

WHERE WE STAND: Besides placekicking, the Bears are pretty set on special teams. Bryan Anger, although a little inconsistent in the spring, still will be one of the nation’s top returning punters next season. And the return game should be dynamic, with Jahvid Best returning kicks and Syd’Quan Thompson on punt duties. It will be hard to get a gauge on how Cal’s kick and punt coverage is improving until they actually play in games.

MOVING FORWARD: The kicking spot will be the most fluid in the fall. It’s rare to have three viable placekickers in the same program at the same time, but that could be the competition going on during camp. The other thing to follow will be the second kick returner. There may be times when Best doesn’t return kicks, whether it be to preserve him physically or because of the offensive set the Bears plan on beginning with for the ensuing possession. Jeremy Ross did OK in that role last season, but you might see Shane Vereen or Marvin Jones get more looks there.