Had breakfast with new basketball coach Cuonzo Martin, who said he’s bought a home in Piedmont but will spend much of the rest of this summer recruiting for the Class of 2015.
He also confirmed the Bears are likely to go into next season with just 10 eligible scholarship players. Martin said he won’t use either of the program’s two open scholarships this summer, unless he’s able to land a senior graduate transfer who is immediately eligible.
That means — although Martin cannot discuss recruits by name — there is nothing to online chatter that Cal might be pursuing former Oregon guard and Bay Area native Dominic Artis.
The situation is complicated because Artis played for the Oakland Soldiers, the powerhouse traveling team that features Bishop O’Dowd HS star Ivan Rabb, rated by some as the top prospect in the Class of 2015.
The Bears, and everyone else, want Rabb, but my sense is they won’t sign Artis to get him. Artis was one of three players booted from Oregon this spring after being the subject of a sexual assault investigation. While no charges were filed, the incident was unseemly enough that the school divorced itself from all three players.
Asked how concerned he is about his scholarship numbers for next season, Martin said, “Not at all. We’ve been in situations like this before. The strength and conditioning part is important, but also being smart in practice.”
The Bears expect to go with a roster that includes just one senior — forward David Kravish. Also available are juniors Tyrone Wallace and Christian Behrens, sophomores Jabari Bird, Jordan Mathews, Kameron Rooks, Sam Singer and Roger Moute a Bidias, and incoming freshmen Brandon Chauca and Kingsley Okoroh.
Georgetown transfer Stephen Domingo must sit out the 2014-15 season before becoming eligible as a junior the following season.
Martin is getting to know his players and had the chance recently to work them out for four days.
“I’m definitely encouraged,” he said. “I think we have a good core, good guys returning. We have veteran leadership in David Kravish, good, young freshmen that will be sophomores. Tyrone has been battled-tested, played a lot of minutes.
“So I think we’ve got the parts. We’ve got to add some parts coming in and continue to get better. We have great character guys. Seem like hard workers. I think we have a good foundation.”
Asked if he has a sense of what the team expects to achieve next season, Martin said, “They want to be an NCAA tournament team,” he said.
Martin said Rooks, the 7-foot center who missed the second half of last season after foot surgery, has not been cleared for full workouts. “He looks physically OK,” said Martin, whose impressions otherwise come from watching videotape.
“Good size, good soft hands,” Martin said. “I think he has a knack to be a good rebounder. You’re talking about a guy who’s 7 feet, 270 pounds. He needs to continue to improve his mobility and chisel his body.”
Martin said he wants Bird to be more aggressive offensively, needs Mathews to improve his ballhandling, and asked Kravish to spend time in the offseason working on his 3-point shot. Behrens and Moute a Bidias both impressed him during limited workouts.
On Behrens, who will compete for the power forward spot, Martin said, “He improved every day. That was a great sign.”
Three players — Singer, Wallace and Chauca — will compete for the point guard spot, Martin said. Wallace, at 6-5, can play as many as four different spots on the floor and would be plugged in at power forward if the Bears opt to use a four-guard alignment at times, Martin said.