The Cal basketball program will get a lot bigger at about 11 a.m. today, when 7-foot, 280-pound Kameron Rooks intends to sign his national letter-of-intent at Mission Hills High in San Marcos.
Rooks is rated a three-star prospect and will be a valuable piece in the Cal frontline beginning next season. Forwards Richard Solomon and David Kravish return, but departing walkon Robert Thurman, who played well in two NCAA tournament games, gave the Bears their only real girth up front.
Rooks, the son of former Arizona star Sean Rooks, is not a finished product, especially on offense. He said he hopes to lose at least 10 pounds, improve his jumping ability, get stronger and “get in college shape.”
But he also believes he can make a contribution from the start.
“I expect to play as hard as I can and be a dominant force inside,” he said. “That doesn’t have to be scoring. I’m going to try to get rebounds, anything to help the team.”
Rated the nation’s No. 22 center prospect by ESPN, Rooks said committed to Cal on Jan. 1 because he likes everything about the situation, from the coaching staff amd his new teammates to the campus and the academic possibilities.
But his father gave him first-hand knowledge of the benefits of playing for coach Mike Montgomery, whose Stanford teams battled Sean Rooks and Arizona for conference supremacy.
“He told me (Montgomery) is a good big man’s coach, he knows how to teach big men the right stuff,” Kameron said.
Rooks joins a strong recruiting class that features five-star prospect Jabari Bird, a 6-5 wing from Salesian HS in Richmond. Bird signed in November, along with shooting guard Jordan Mathews and point guard Sam Singer.
Rivals.com has rated the Bears’ 2014 recruiting class among the top-20 nationally.
Cal still has two open scholarships after freshman forward Kaileb Rodriguez decided to transfer. Rodriguez did not play in 2012-13.