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Basketball: Monty expects Solomon back to return

Cal coach Mike Montgomery said he expects that sophomore forward Richard Solomon, ruled academically ineligible last week for the remainder of this season, will be back to play in 2012-13.

Montgomery said Solomon participates in all team activities, including practice, but cannot play in games or travel.

“He’s everywhere we are, except on the road. He’s not in prison, he’s just ineligible,” Montgomery said.

Solomon, who was averaging 6.0 points and 6.2 rebounds, has two seasons of eligibility left. But he must pass 24 units this school year to be reinstated.

Teammate Allen Crabbe, who also played alongside Solomon as a senior at Price HS in Los Angeles, is confident Solomon has learned from his mistake.

“He’s put it behind him. He can’t do anything about it. He’s going to take his time to work harder and get ready for next year,” Crabbe said. “It’s a learning experience for him and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t want to be in this situation again next year. He’s going to focus a lot more this semester.”

Montgomery said Solomon is getting attention from the athletic department’s academic advisers, but they can only do so much.

“The academic people are obviously more equipped. We’ve got them on high alert,” Montgomery said. “We’ve got Richard coming into the office at different times so we’re sure he’s doing what he needs to be doing.

“At the end of the day it’s still on him. You can only make sure he’s going where he’s supposed to go, doing what he’s supposed to do. Ultimately, he has to do the work. The motivation has to come from within himself. He knows that.”

Meanwhile . . .

— Although Harper Kamp’s scoring numbers are off from a year ago, Montgomery has no complaints about the sore-kneed senior forward.

“He’s busting his butt, he’s giving everything he has,” Montgomery said. “The knee hurts at times. I think psychologically, like all kids that have an owie, your body tends to try to keep from having it hurt. He’ll avoid certain things he knows will cause it to hurt a little bit, and it affects his game.”

Kamp, who averaged 14.2 points a year ago, is scoring at a 9.4 clip this season. But he is the Bears’ best interior defender and he’s been required to play closer to the basket this season, without a bulky sidekick such as he had last year in 6-7, 260-pound Markhuri Sanders-Frison.

“We’re trying to keep evolving to put people in a position to be successful. Locking him in at the low post is not necessarily his strength. He does some things well there, but over the course of a game he needs to be away,” Montgomery said.

“So we’ve done a little bit more of that. But we don’t want to go to that exclusively because we need to have some sort of low-post presence and he can score down there.”

— The Bears will take Thursday off, then return to practice Friday in advance of Sunday’s game vs. Stanford.

Jeff Faraudo