Cal recruit Bak Bak scored four points on 2-for-8 shooting Saturday night in the Feinberg Academic All-American Classic in Ontatio, Calif. The 6-foot-10 forward/center from Village Christian School near Los Angeles had five rebounds, two assists and one block in his West team’s 92-79 victory over the East squad.
San Leandro High’s Jared Cunningham, headed to Oregon State next season, added 17 points, four blocks, three rebounds, two assists and two steals for the West.
Junior Desmond Simmons, a 6-7 forward from Salesian High in Richmond, committed this week to Washington after entertaining offers from a variety of Pac-10 schools.
Simmons, who averaged 19 points this past season, told the Web site scout.com that the Huskies envision him as a shooting guard in college. Scout.com ranks him as the top Bay Area player in the class of 2010 and rivals.com has him at No. 2.
HELPED HIS CAUSE: Sean Cattouse. The safety came on at the end of last year and started the Emerald Bowl, but much of that is because Brett Johnson wasn’t fully healthy. Defensive coordinator Bob Gregory went into spring thinking Johnson was solid as a starter, but Cattouse played too well and now the competition will continue on into the spring. Cattouse made a lasting impression with a nice interception in the final scrimmage.
WORK TO DO: Darian Hagan. Last year’s starter at one corner practiced just once a week during the spring to focus on academics. Coach Jeff Tedford was pleased with Hagan’s attitude and how he handled his business, but the bottom line is his absence allowed others a chance to make an impact. Chris Conte, Bryant Nnabufie, Josh Hill and Marc Anthony all did that. Hagan should still be in good shape to return as a starter, but he needs to make sure he takes care of business in the fall.
WHERE WE STAND: This is the deepest position on the team. With Hagan and Syd’Quan Thompson at corner, Marcus Ezeff at one safety and either Cattouse or Johnson at the other, the Bears will have a talented and experienced secondary this season. If anyone falters, the depth should shine through. Conte has started games, Nnabufie is a talent who came on during the spring, and Gregory has raved about Hill and Anthony.
MOVING FORWARD: There are no real pressing questions. Cattouse and Johnson will battle for a starting job, but both players will get significant playing time and both are quality players. Hagan should still start the fall as a No. 1 cornerback, and he simply has to continue to play hard and maintain a good attitude. Simply put, Cal is loaded in the secondary, and that should make things easier on the rest of the defense this fall.
HELPED HIS CAUSE: Mychal Kendricks. Many thought this would be the opportunity for Kendricks to make an impact, and that’s exactly what has happened. Kendricks flashed gobs of potential last year as a true freshman and now it appears he’s locked into a starting job on the inside. Defensive coordinator Bob Gregory used Kendricks on both the outside and inside this spring before finally settling him inside. That comes as a bit of a surprise with Kendricks’ speed, but Gregory said he has all the tools to be a very good inside linebacker.
WORK TO DO: Devin Bishop. This is not an indictment of how Bishop played this spring. He played well. But when Kendricks ultimately wound up inside, Bishop wound up outside. Bishop ended spring as the starting weakside outside linebacker, but that’s a position he’s expected to get competition from junior college transfer Ryan Davis in the fall. Bishop will have to continue to improve in the fall to hold off Davis, who is believed to have lots of potential as a rush linebacker.
WHERE WE STAND: For the first time in a couple years, there are no Zack Follett, Worrell Williams and Anthony Felder to hold down the linebacking corps. Obviously, the Bears have some major players to replace, but Gregory is confident in his young linebackers. Mike Mohamed, who backed up all four positions last year, may have been the team’s best linebacker. He’s now going to start inside with Kendricks. Mohamed and Kendricks potentially give Cal a dynamic due of inside backers. Eddie Young maintained his job on the strong side outside.
MOVING FORWARD: The biggest question in the fall will be the weakside outside spot. Gregory was happy with how Bishop played at the end of last season and in the spring, but Davis deserves a look. The Bears also have to consider where D.J. Holt fits in. Despite playing through a shoulder injury this spring, Gregory repeatedly praised Holt for his play. If nothing else, he gives the Bears some depth on the inside.
The latest very early pre-season rankings come from SI.com, which picks Cal No. 12 for next season. The only other Pac-10 team to earn a spot in the 16-team rankings is Washington, which came in at No. 14.
Here are SI.com’s full rankings.
Cal recruit Bak Bak, a 6-10 forward from Village Christian High outside Los Angeles, will play for the West team tonight at the Feinberg Academic All-American Classic in Ontario.
San Leandro’s Jared Cunningham, bound for Oregon State, also will play for the West squad, along with four UCLA signees, including Reeves Nelson, Tyler Honeycutt and Brendan Lane.
Here’s a link to the game’s Web site.
ESPN.com’s Ted Miller weighs in with his wrap up of spring practice. For a general Pac-10 wrap as well as rundowns of the other teams in the conference, go to his blog here.
HELPED HIS CAUSE: Aaron Tipoti. The redshirt freshman-to-be emerged from a group of young down lineman this spring to put himself in the mix at either end or nose tackle. On Cal’s post-spring depth chart, Tipoti is listed as sharing a second team spot with Ernest Owusu. Defensive coordinator Bob Gregory went into the spring looking for depth because of Derrick Hill’s knee issues, and he can feel better about things with the emergence of Tipoti and Kendrick Payne.
WORK TO DO: Keith Browner. Browner was seeing regular time as a reserve near the beginning of last season but fell out of the rotation, then missed most of the spring because of a neck injury. The Bears are set at defensive end with the duo of Tyson Alualu and Cameron Jordan. If Browner wants to get on the field in a reserve role, he will have to contend with the likes of Trevor Guyton, Tipoti and Owusu.
WHERE WE STAND: There weren’t many questions to answer this spring, at least on the end where Alualua and Jordan may form the best bookends in the Pac-10. Both had solid springs, and Jordan could be ready to emerge as an All-Pac-10 caliber player. Jordan’s combination of strength and athleticism makes him as talented as anyone in the conference, but he’s also now taking the game more seriously. Jordan is a fun-loving guy but he’s learned to narrow his focus at practice, which could help him turn into a dominant player this season. The nose tackle position is a little more fluid because Hill didn’t practice during the spring. The Bears expect him to be fine for fall camp, but the spring probably made Gregory feel better about the depth there, especially with Payne as the primary backup.
MOVING FORWARD: The primary issue will be the health of Hill, who has been hampered by injuries ever since he arrived in Berkeley. His knee and shoulder have been recurring problems, and the Bears need him to anchor the line, if nothing else because of his experience and maturity. Hill talked about becoming more of a leader this season, which is a little tougher to do from the bench. When healthy last season, he became a very good nose tackle, doing a good job in the 3-4 of taking up space, eating up blockers and letting Cal’s linebackers make plays.
HELPED HIS CAUSE: Chris Guarnero. There was really no reason to doubt Guarnero’s ability to come back from his season-ending toe surgery, but he still was making the transition from guard back to center this spring. Except for a few bad snaps, Guarnero had a good spring by all accounts. Center is Guarnero’s more natural position anyway — he simply played guard last year because a fellow by the name of Alex Mack had the center spot locked down. With Mack now gone, Guarnero can slide back to center. There was some talk of possibly keeping Guarnero at guard and taking a look at oncoming sophomore-to-be Dominic Galas at center, but that never materialized. Plus, Galas missed some of the spring with a sprained ankle.
WORK TO DO. Donovan Edwards. He became a starter at right tackle by the end of last season because of an ankle injury to Chet Teofilo, but with the return of sixth-year senior MIke Tepper, Edwards’ days at tackle seem to be over, at least this season. Edwards is in the mix at guard, but wasn’t one of the top four guards by the end of spring. Instead, Edwards took almost exclusive reps as the second team left tackle. With both guard positions pretty open, that appears to be Edwards’ best chance to get back on the field this season.
WHERE WE STAND: Cal is set at both tackle spots and at center. Tepper will be the Bears’ left tackle while redshirt sophomore Mitchell Schwartz will play right tackle, where he started last season before moving over to the left side early on. The questions are at guard. Mark Boskovich took most of the first team reps at left guard after starting there last season when Guarnero went down. Chet Teofilo is penciled in at right guard for now but was in and out of spring practice as he still recovers from his ankle injury. The backups — Matt Summers-Gavin and Justin Cheadle — both came to Cal with major press clippings and are talented. They should both push for playing time in the fall.
MOVING FORWARD: The competition for the guard spots will be one of the most closely followed in the fall. Boskovich has the experience, but he struggled at times last season and wasn’t at his best in the Emerald Bowl to close the season. Teofilo has only played tackle at Cal so guard will be a transition for him. Coach Jeff Tedford lauded Summers-Gavin for having a good spring and he could be the next in line to compete with Boskovich or Teofilo. Galas is a wild-card. Could he do what Guarnero did last season, move to guard to get his talents on to the field? Or would Cal still consider keeping him at center and moving Guarnero back to guard? Those questions will be answered during fall camp.
The NCAA released its 2007-08 Academic Progress Rate (APR) report on Wednesday and all of Cal’s programs met the minimum requirement, with 18 of them showing improvement from a year ago.
Here is Cal’s new release on the matter, with a link to a sport-by-sport breakdown of its APR results.