Basketball: Cuonzo Martin on recruiting, Jabari Bird, energizing fans and his coaching mentor

New Cal coach Cuonzo Martin got some radio time Thursday afternoon on 95.7 The Game with Damon Bruce.

Here are some highlights:

On what he looks for in a player he’s recruiting: “First and foremost, you want talent. But there are different things when you talk about a talented player. Everybody understands the runners and jumpers, a good catch-and-shoot guy. For me the talent I like to look for nowadays is a just guy that works hard. Back when we played 10-15-20 years ago, working hard was understood. That’s what you normally do.

“Nowadays, working hard is probably a skill because not many guys like to work hard and do the dirty work. A guy that wants to be part of your program, a guy that’s committed to being successful. There are a lot of talented players, but you’ve got to have guys who want to be a part of what you want to do, who want to win at a high level but also understand the importance of the academics.”

His early impression of Jabari Bird: “I saw him quite a bit on the AAU circuit, very talented basketball player. I watched him from afar. Very talented basketball player, but in my opinion probably a better person. I just had an opportunity to talk with him. Obviously he was raised well. I’m looking forward and excited to coach him.”

On how he will sell his program to fans: “My job between now and the time we start playing is to get out in the community, reach out to the fans, reach out to our student base and get those guys to be a part us so we’re all going to have have success. Before we get to the basketball side, we’ve got to get everybody generating excitement for football and get them all on board. I think they go hand-in-hand. If we all do this thing together we can have a great deal of success.”

On the influence of his former Purdue coach, Gene Keady: “He was always a tough, hard-nosed guy. A nice guy, a humble man. He was one of those guys who was very fair in his approach. If you worked hard, you had an opportunity to play. If you go to class and get a degree, you’ll be fine. With coach, he was one of those guys who stuck with it, do the right things, do the little things, be consistent with it all the time and we’ll have a chance to have ultimate success.”

Jeff Faraudo

  • Wehofx

    J Randle tweet on Cuonzo coaching hire:

    @jerome_randle: Congrats to @Twebster11 for being on the coaching staff at CAL @CalMensBBall great coach/friend…..I’m sure we are left in good hands.

  • eastcoastbear

    Sounds to me like both kids and parents will be impressed by the Coach C’s background and his coaching style. Cal is going to be very hard to beat at Harmon as he turns up the defensive intensity! Plus he loves the 3-ball from his own playing background. Look forward to the Cuonzo-era. Hope to see more games on TV on the East Coast.

  • BlakeStreetBear

    Dear Coach Martin,
    please go and get Ivan Rabb on board at Cal. That is your first order of business. Thank you.
    Long Suffering Cal Basketball Fans

    Go Bears!

  • Juancho

    This guy has everything to be an absolute recruiting star in the bay area. Confident, great speaker, and a success story. Yet also came from a really rough area and can go in and meet with families and speak first hand about going from an urban area and using basketball to change your life.
    Essentially I think he will appeal to any type of socio-economic family here in the Bay Area.

  • BlakeStreetBear

    Cal, not ua, will be the Oakland Soldier pipeline to college and the NBA. Coach Martin knew what he was signing up for here at Cal. Many people across the country are baffled about why he left the holy sec and tenn. One word: talent. Northern California from the oregon border to Bakersfield has got it in droves and the Bay specifically. while over in tenn, not so much. Time for all that talent to stay at home for a change.

    Go Bears!

  • Steve Fischer

    Yes! and that other Top Ten California recruit wandering in the desert (Arizona) Bring our children home! ( 19 Cal recruits in the top 150 -rivals)

  • Juancho

    Bingo. The Bay Area is a basketball mecca. Not football, not baseball, basketball is king here.

  • Milo

    Martin’s cred is pretty deep: East St. Louis, Purdue, NBA, family man. Seems to me if he shows up to AAU games he’ll recruit well. I like his comments on Jabari Bird, “talented player, better person.” That’s the stuff that will work – connecting to the person, not the player. I get the sense this guy will recruit the Bay Area very well. He has a heck of a presence to go with the cred, old school, straight shooter, no bull.

  • Peter C.

    “Before we get to the basketball side, we’ve got to get everybody generating excitement for football”. You might want to table that task for a few years or so down the road, coach.

  • BlakeStreetBear

    lol, I was thinking the same thing Peter, regrettably.

    Let’s hope Sonny is up to HIS task too. I’m feeling for the guy, especially after this hire. If Coach Martin can get the BBALL ship shooting off into outer space, there will be all the more pressure on Sonny and co…which can only be a good thing.
    Go Bears!

  • Juancho


  • WanderingBearIV

    Harmon Gym. Before it was Haas.

  • Wehofx

    I know nothing about raa the person. Is like bird and Gordon as far as qualifying academically to enter Cal?

    @CalMensBBall: ICYMI head coach @CuonzoMartin threw out the first pitch at the @Cal_Baseball game last night http://t.co/Zs6WY8QwGQ #GoBears

  • Juancho

    I know that. I just hope Cuonzo doesn’t make us unbeatable at Harmon but very beatable at Haas.

  • JB Don’t Dance

    Maybe this is just the new coach smell, but I’m optimistic on recruiting. All the points below. Plus, the comments from the two recruits “we” are hoping to keep are concerns about how Coach Martin sees them in their plans and not as much about who the assistants will be. Martin certainly seems like a guy who can be successful in living rooms across the Bay Area.