Basketball: Bears set for exhibition opener

Cal opens its season Tuesday night with an exhibition game against San Francisco State. Tipoff is 7:30 p.m. at Haas Pavilion.

The Bears figure to start David Kravish and Richard Solomon up front, with Allen Crabbe, Justin Cobbs and Brandon Smith in the backcourt.

It will be intriguing to watch how the Bears’ freshmen fare in their first games against college opposition. Tyrone Wallace is expected to be the first guard off the bench — at least until Ricky Kreklow recovers from foot surgery in a few weeks.

Forward Kaileb Rodriguez is a work in progress, not expected to contribute too heavily this season. Garrett Galvin and Geoffrey Frid are walk-ons, although Frid is 7-foot-1 and may turn himself into a player in a couple years.

The X-factor among the freshmen is 6-7 forward Kahlil Johnson, who comes to Cal from Price HS in Los Angeles, the alma mater of Crabbe and Solomon. Johnson transferred in to Price as a senior, so he never played alongside his two new Cal teammates.

The Bears are hoping Johnson gives them something at either the small or power forward spot. Coach Mike Montgomery said Johnson has potential, but lots to learn to learn.

“He’s got a long ways to go from the standpoint that it’s just so different, all the things that are being thrown at him right now,” Montgomery said. “He’s trying to figure out when he has to make a cut, where he’s going, why he’s going there.

“Like a lot of high school kids, he’s never had to do all that stuff. He’s shown some signs of being able to do some things that are very encouraging. But he has a ways to go to put it all together.

“I hope he can get more aggressive and not get discouraged like most freshmen do. They kind of hit a wall, go to the bottom of the barrel before they start climbing their way out. He’s got some ability.”

Johnson showed a nice 3-point stroke during the team’s intra-squad scrimmage last week.

“He’ll shoot it. He’s not afraid to do that,” Montgomery said. “It’s just a question of does he recognize what a good shot is, what a bad shot is? `What do I do from there? How do I make the next guy a good player?’

“And that’s hard for these guys because we run a lot of stuff and takes a lot of execution.”

THE FRID FACTOR: Asked at Pac-12 media day last week whether Frid, the big walk-on from Carlsbad, could have impact this season, Montgomery — in his typically to-the-point bluntness — said, “No.”

“He’s not anywhere close. He’s never played basketball,” Montgomery said. “What is intriguing about the kid is he is big, he’s fairly coordinated. He runs a mile in 5:40 and didn’t bat an eye.”

Frid actually began playing AAU basketball in 2010, but his high school — Impact Academy in Las Vegas — did not field a team.

“The question’s going to be how fast is he able to learn how to play in a system? He’s just never done that,” Montgomery said. “He doesn’t have any idea that this leads to this and that leads to that. I’m trying to get him to get a go-to move at the low-post, take advantage of his size.

“He tends to shoot the ball low, so he might as well not be 7-foot. If he’s a kid that can learn and he’s willing to work, he actually in a couple years could be a pretty good player.”

THE GATORS: S.F. State is a Division II squad coming off a 9-19 campaign a year ago. The Gators lost 93-77 to USF in their first exhibition game.

There could be plenty of familiar faces on the S.F. State roster, starting with assistant coach Alex Pribble, a one-time Cal walk-on.

The team’s top player is 6-foot-1 senior PF Nefi Perdomo an Oakland-Skyline HS grad, who averaged 15.5 ppg last season. He is a 1,000-point career scorer and had 20 vs. USF in the exhibition.

Senior F James Albright, a graduate of Oakland-Fremont HS, averaged 12.0 ppg last season after transferring from D-I Cal State Bakersfield. The 6-9 Albright scored 32 points vs. Alaska-Fairbanks a year ago.

Much-traveled Decensae White, who prepped at San Mateo-Serra HS, is back in college basketball after spending one season at Santa Clara in 2008-09. The 6-5 senior played two years before that at Texas Tech. White scored nine points vs. USF.


Jeff Faraudo