In the wake of Kyle Wiltjer’s surprise commitment to Kentucky on Saturday, it’s worth keeping in mind Rick Pitino’s sentiment when he was hired as Boston Celtics coach and told fans, “Larry Bird’s not walking through that door.”
Wiltjer, the talented and versatile 6-foot-9 power forward from Portland, Ore., would have been a terrific pickup for the Bears. But he made his decision, and there’s no reason to expect him to ever walk through the front doors at Haas Pavilion.
With the possible exception of John Calipari, who seems to land every potential one-and-done talent in the country, most coaches experience more recruiting failures than successes. It’s the nature of the math involved: There are lots of programs pulling at every good recruit, and you don’t win ‘em all.
So where to the Bears go from here in their search for a good big man?
Seems they’re after one David Kravish, a wiry 6-9 forward with inside-out skills and the ability to pass and handle the ball.
Sounds a little bit like Wiltjer, right?
Well, probably not. Wiltjer is a consensus top-25 national recruit, better still in the minds of some. Kravish, who plays at Lee’s Summit North HS, a suburb of Kansas City, does not appear on anyone’s top-150 national list.
Still, his skill set may be similar, and the good news for Cal is Kravish has scheduled a campus visit for Sept. 24.
“Cal is definitely in the top three — Iowa, Colorado and Cal,” his coach, Mike Hilbert, told me today. “All three offer basketball at the highest level. As a pre-med major — biology — Cal and Iowa would be dynamite for him academically.”
Hilbert confirmed that Kravish is visiting Iowa this weekend and is scheduled to check out Colorado on Oct. 2. He plans to take an unofficial trip to Wichita State, which has recruited him longer than any school, and probably has ruled out Creighton after visiting last weekend.
Asked to describe Kravish, Hilbert said, “David is a post player. At the high school level he’s pretty much a typical interior back-to-the basket post kid. But at the college level, he can be more of an out on the floor small foward. He has tremendous offensive skills. He can put the ball on the floor and attack you off the dribble, he’s a great passer, and from 20 feet in can knock down the jump shot.”
Kravish’s high school numbers hardly get your attention: About 10 ppg and 8 rpg for a 20-8 team that reached the quarterfinals of the Missouri Class 5 (large school) state tournament.
“He’s got a lot of bounce and he’s really active as far as blocking shots,” Hilbert said. “He’s kind of a European style post, a lot of face up skills. He’s an extremely intelligent basketball player. I’m just really excited about him, not only for his senior year, but the four years after high school.”
Hilbert said Kravish was 6-3 as a freshman and has grown a couple inches each year without losing quickness.
“He’s a great kid, a tremendous worker. He’s done everything he can to be in the weight room,” Hilbert said. “He’s kind of under the radar as far as national recruiting has gone. As a sophomore he was on our JV team. Really just in the last 18 months he’s really exploded with summer basketball and recruitment.
“I know coach Montgomery likes him for those offensive skills.”
Hilbert said Kravish has an older sister living in San Francisco and that he hopes to make his decision in time to finalize things during the November signing period.