* 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Haas Pavilion (Pac-12 Networks)
It was time for Richard Solomon to grow up, and he realized it just in time.
Now a senior at Cal, the 6-foot-10 forward has become one of the Pac-12’s most dependable players. As the Bears take on unbeaten and top-ranked Arizona on Saturday night at Haas Pavilion, no player in any of the BCS conferences can match Solomon’s 10.7 rebounds per game.
“I think everybody watching him play wanted more,” said former UCLA star and Pac-12 Networks analyst Don MacLean. “They felt like with the tools he had, he could do more. And this year he’s doing it.”
But two years ago Solomon’s future nearly unraveled.
In early December of his sophomore season, Solomon was suspended indefinitely for “conduct contrary to athletic department and university values.” Reinstated after two games, he suffered a stress fracture and missed four more.
Then, in mid-January, Solomon was ruled academically ineligible for the remainder of the season. He sat out the Bears’ final 15 games.
“It hurt a lot,” he said.
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CHAIRMEN OF THE BOARDS
The leading per-game rebounders from the six BCS conferences (through games Wednesday):
Richard Solomon, Cal (Pac-12) — 10.7
Julius Randle, Kentucky (SEC) — 10.2
Ryan Spangler, Oklahoma (Big 12) — 10.1
Noah Vonleh, Indiana (Big Ten) — 9.6
Anthony Lee, Temple (AAC-x) — 9.1
Devin Thomas, Wake Forest (ACC) — 8.3
x — American Athletic Conference, formerly the Big East