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Basketball: Kreklow transfers, 8 Bears left

Junior guard Ricky Kreklow, who missed 35 games due to injury over his two seasons at Cal, will transfer to another school for his senior campaign, he confirmed Thursday.

“This was not an easy decision,” Kreklow said in a statement. “This is not related in any way to the change in coaching staff at Cal. I have enjoyed my time at Cal.”

Kreklow said he expects to graduate this summer with a degree in interdisciplinary studies, making him eligible to play immediately at his new school.

The news came two days after the Bears lost a recruiting battle for 7-foot Austrian recruit Jakob Poeltl, who committed to Utah.

Kreklow missed 24 games with a broken foot during the 2012-13 season, then 11 more this past season due to a broken hand. He also suffered a broken nose during training camp last fall.

A 6-foot-6 wing from Columbia, Mo., he also was asked to play inside at times because of the Bears’ shortage of post players.

“Been a tough couple of years for Rick with a broken foot, broken hand, broken nose, having to battle bigs down low,” Kreklow’s father Wayne said in an email.

“We’ve known coach Martin from his time at Missouri State. “Great guy and great coach — no reflection on him at all.”

Wayne Kreklow said Ricky has not decided on his next school.

Kreklow’s departure is the first since Martin was hired as the Bears’ new coach last week. The Bears now have just eight returning scholarship players, giving them five open slots.

“We fully support Ricky’s decision,” Martin said in a statement. “We appreciate everything he has done for our program and wish him and his family the best moving forward.”

Wayne Kreklow confirmed the decision was not easy for his son.

“Very tough on all of us,” he said. “We really love Cal and all the people out there!”

Kreklow came to Cal three years ago after after spending his freshman season at the University of Missouri, where his father serves as women’s volleyball coach.

After sitting out the 2011-12 season, Kreklow averaged 3.1 points as a redshirt sophomore in 2012-13, then 5.5 points and 2.6 rebounds this past season. He played in 33 games for Cal, 17 of them as a starter this season.

Kreklow was described by Cal senior point guard Justin Cobbs as Jorge Gutierrez with a jump shot, referring to the disruptive defensive style of the Bears’ former Pac-12 Player of the Year.

But injuries prevented Kreklow from settling into comfort zone, especially on offense where he never found a shooting rhythm. He converted just 35.7 percent from the field this season.

Expected to return to the Bears’ roster next season are senior F David Kravish, junior G Tyrone Wallace, junior F Christian Behrens, sophomore G Jabari Bird, sophomore G Jordan Mathews, sophomore G Sam Singer, sophomore C Kameron Rooks and sophomore F Roger Moute a Bidias.

Jeff Faraudo