Football: Four-star safety Thompson picks Cal

Cal got an oral commitment from 2016 safety Shurod Thompson of Liberty High in Brentwood, who is rated as a four-star prospect by both Scout.com and Rivals.com.

Thompson, a 6-foot-1, 185-pounder, also had offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon State, USC and Washington State, among others. But Scout reported that it was Cal who gave Thompson his first scholarship offer.

Rivals ranks him as the No. 7 safety prospect in the country, the No. 1o overall player in the Class of 2016 from California.

Scout ranks Thompson as the nation’s No. 8 overall prosect, and has him No. 11 among safeties and No. 2 at his position in California.

Thompson is Cal’s sixth oral commitment and the second elite defensive back the Bears expect to sign. Also committed is four-star DB Marquel Dismuke, a 6-2, 170-pounder from Calabasas.


Basketball: With Ivan Rabb in the fold, Cuonzo Martin expects Bears to compete for Pac-12 title

With top-10 prospect Ivan Rabb now on board, Cal basketball coach Cuonzo Martin said fans should have high expectations for the Golden Bears in the Pac-12 next season.

“I think we’ll fight for the top spot,” said Martin, whose team finished in a tie for eighth in the Pac-12 this season and did not participate in the postseason.

Pac-12 champ Arizona has landed a superb recruiting class, but is expected to lose four starters, and Utah, Oregon, UCLA and Stanford also must rebuild.

Cal, with potentially four starters back, should be positioned to make a move.

“It’s exciting times,” Martin said.

Martin, beginning his second season in Berkeley, said Rabb, a 6-foot-10 forward from Bishop O’Dowd, won’t be expected to shoulder the entire load.

“The biggest key is having great guys around him,” Martin said. “He’s coming in as a highly touted player, a very talented young man. He has a lot of skills – a guy who plays inside, outside, handles the ball, plays well on the defensive side.

“He’ll be able to come in and play the way he knows how to play. He won’t be pressing, because he has experienced guards around him.”

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Basketball: Bears get signed letter from Ivan Rabb

Five-star prospect Ivan Rabb’s signed letter-of-intent arrived at the Cal basketball office Wednesday evening — all the way from New York, where the Bishop O’Dowd forward is preparing to play in the Jordan Brand Classic all-star game on Friday.

“From day one, Ivan Rabb was a priority for our program,” Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said in a statement. “He is important to us not only for our basketball team, but for our program for years to come. When you have a guy of this magnitude and caliber of talent in your backyard, you want to do everything in your power to make it work for him.

“He made it a priority to give us every opportunity to show him what we are about. It is very important to keep your local guys home. We built a great relationship with Ivan and landed one of the best in the country.”

The Bears also announced the official signing of shooting guard Tyson Jolly of Oklahoma City.

“The thing we saw in Tyson Jolly, he is a great young man who we love to be around,” Martin said. “He has great passion and wants to be a part of what we are trying to do.

“Tyson’s athleticism and level of toughness is exactly what we want. He has a will to win basketball games, whether it is blocking a shot, getting a big rebound, scoring a big basket or making a big free throw. He does all those things to help his team win and does it with a tremendous level of passion.”

The Bears also have landed small forward Davon Dillard of Gary, Indiana. Cal made no official announcement about Dillard on Wednesday, but he reported via his Twitter account that he has signed.


Basketball: Who will be the last piece in Bears’ puzzle?

We don’t know how much influence Ivan Rabb actually can have on uncommitted five-star recruit Jaylen Brown of Georgia. Rabb said at his news conference Monday he planned to call Brown afterward, but he still hadn’t had the chance by 9 p.m.

Either way, Brown still has eight schools on his list and it’s anyone’s guess whether he actually winds up at Cal. Seems like — and always has seemed like — a longshot.

Coach Cuonzo Martin, who will sign three players on Wednesday, still will have one available scholarship. Certainly make sense that on a guard-heavy team, that spot will go to a forward, someone who can complement Rabb up front while centers Kameron Rooks and Kingsley Okoroh continue to develop.

Here are some transfers – including a few names that have been out there for weeks – that may be considering Cal, courtesy of ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman:

*  Shonn Miller, Cornell: Immediately eligible as a graduate transfer, Miller averaged 16.8 points and 8.5 rebounds this season. At 6-7, 210 pounds, sounds like a somewhat more productive version of Dwight Tarwater, the Big Red transfer who played at Cal this season.

* Ricky Tarrant, Alabama: Began his career at Tulane, then transferred to Alabama before leaving after coach when coach Anthony Grant was fired after this season. Averaged 13.1 points for the Tide, and is immediately eligible. But do the Bears need another shooting guard?

* Mark Tollefsen, USF: The Danville native, a 6-9, 199-pound combo forward, is more scorer than rebounder/defender. He averaged 14.0 points and 5.4 rebounds this season and will be eligible to play immediately as a grad transfer.

* Anthony Collins, South Florida: Given a medical waiver (following a 20-13-14 knee injury) and immediate eligibility at a new school, the 6-1 senior point guard could be valuable if Tyrone Wallace opts to enter the NBA draft.  Collins averaged 7.1 points and 5.2 assists this past season and has 569 career assists.


Basketball: What can Bears expect from Rabb?

How good will consensus top-10 recruit Ivan Rabb be for Cal?

Here’s a look back at the Bears’ top-50 prospects from the past quarter century (the source of their national rating in parenthesis) and how they performed in Berkeley:

No. 1: Jason Kidd, 1992 (Naismith Award)
Led Cal to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament as a freshman, was consensus All-America point guard as a sophomore and is two years removed from what will be a Hall of Fame career in the NBA.

No. 4: Shareef Abdur-Rahim, 1995 (Blue Chip Illustrated)
Was spectacular in is lone collegiate season, averaging 21.1 points and becoming first freshman to win Pac-10 Player of the Year. Went on to productive NBA career.

No. 6: Leon Powe, 2003 (Prep Stars)
Plagued by knee problems, Powe nonetheless twice was an all-Pac-10 pick before entering the NBA, where he won a title with the Boston Celtics.

No. 11: Jelani Gardner, 1994 (Sporting News)
Played two uneven seasons for the Bears before his father admitted that he was paid $30,000 by coach Todd Bozeman. Gardner then transferred to Pepperdine amid the scandal.

No. 13: Jabari Bird, 2013 (Scout)
Slowed by injuries each of his first two seasons at Cal, Bird has shown flashes of his potential but has yet to blossom as a college star.

No. 21 Jamal Sampson, 2001 (CBS Sports)
Averaged 6.4 points and 6.5 rebounds in his only season at Cal, then jumped to NBA, where he totaled 142 points with five teams in five seasons.

No. 25 Brian Wethers, 1999 (Recruiting USA)
Improved each season at Cal, averaging 15.1 points as a senior on a team that reached the second round of the NCAA tournament.

No. 26: Tony Gonzalez, 1994 (Sporting News)
Future star NFL tight end enjoyed his finest basketball moment in the 1997 NCAA tournament, scoring 23 points in a win over Villanova.

No. 27: Al Grigsby, 1991 (Bob Gibbons)
Constantly sidelined by injuries, the power forward still managed to play a starting role on two different Cal teams that reached the Sweet 16.

No. 32: Tremaine Fowlkes, 1994 (Sporting News)
Scored a career-high 26 points as a sophomore in an NCAA tournament loss to Iowa State, then transferred to Fresno State.

No. 42: Lamond Murray, 1991
Averaged 24.3 points as a junior before departing for the NBA as the program’s career scoring leader.

No. 44: Patrick Christopher, 2006 (Rivals)
Cal’s No. 3 career scorer averaged 15.6 points as a senior on the Bears’ first conference championship team in 50 years.

No. 46: Marquise Kately, 2003 (Rivals)
Teased more than he delivered, averaging 9.9 points over two seasons before transferring to Morgan State.

Note: Lamond Murray’s ranking from non-specific source, per Cal media guide.


Basketball: `I haven’t been this happy for a long time’ — Ivan Rabb, after announcing he will attend Cal

Ivan Rabb walked through the back door of the Old Yeller Café N Market, where his mother works, and could barely digest the scene in front of him. More than 100 people — twice what the fire marshal would allow — crammed the room, waiting for one of the nation’s elite high school basketball players to announce his college decision.

“I’m going to the University of Cal Berkeley,” Rabb said, triggering a wave of cheers.

Rabb, a 6-foot-10 forward from Bishop O’Dowd High, actually made the announcement four minutes before his scheduled 7 p.m. news conference Monday.

“I lost track of time. I didn’t prepare anything because I wanted to speak from the heart,” he said. The reception included a contingent of Cal students, hoping they’d have reason to celebrate. “I didn’t realize there would be that many actual students from Cal here. It was crazy.

“I haven’t been this happy for a long time, to be honest.”

The second-happiest person in the Bay Area quite likely is second-year Cal coach Cuonzo Martin, who scored a major recruiting coup by beating Arizona for the consensus top-10 national prospect. Rabb also had been courted by the likes of Kentucky, Kansas and North Carolina, and said Kentucky continued to call his mother daily.

Rabb’s commitment cannot become official until the spring signing period begins Wednesday.

Rabb said Martin called him for the first time within two or three days of getting the Cal job at this time last year and impressed him with honesty and determination.

“Everything he said sounded so sincere. I’m a person who gets vibes from people,” Rabb said. “Coach Martin brought so much energy, so much hunger to the campus.”

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Basketball: Ivan Rabb picks Cal

The Cal basketball program hit the recruiting jackpot Monday night when Bishop O’Dowd High forward Ivan Rabb, a consensus top-10 national prospect, announced he will play next season for the Golden Bears.

“I’m going to the University of Cal Berkeley,” he told an overflow crowd of media and fans at the Old Yeller Café N Market, where his mother works, across the street from O’Dowd.

“I felt the most at home there,” he said. “It felt like family.”

Rabb also had been courted by the likes of Kentucky, Kansas and North Carolina.

It’s a huge recruiting coup for second-year Cal coach Cuonzo Martin, who had gone hard but missed earlier on two other five-star recruits. In Rabb, a 6-foot-10 forward, he has a player who should elevate the Bears to contender status in the Pac-12 next season and spark interest in the program.

“I got to know him off the court as well. That was very important,” Rabb said of Martin, who has been on the job barely a year.

Scout.com recruiting analyst Josh Gershon recently said Rabb would be a significant signee for Martin and the Bears.

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Basketball: Cal’s most impactful homegrown players

While Cal fans eagerly await Monday night’s announcement from five-star basketball recruit Ivan Rabb about whether he will play his college basketball in Berkeley or at Arizona, here is a look back at the best homegrown players to play for the Golden Bears:

* Andy Wolfe, Berkeley: Cal’s first 1,000-point scorer, Wolfe earned All-America honors as a senior in 1948.

* Bob McKeen, Piedmont: An All-American center as a senior in 1955, McKeen retired as Cal’s career leader in points and rebounds. Still owns the record in the latter, 60 years later.

* Charlie Johnson, Redwood City: A three-time team captain and all-conference guard in 1969, Johnson went on to contribute to the Warriors’ 1975 NBA championship team.

* Phil Chenier, Berkeley: An all-Pac-8 selection as a junior in 1971, when he averaged 18.3 points in conference play, Chenier later enjoyed a productive nine-year career.

* Gene Ransom, Berkeley: At 5-foot-8, Ransom averaged 14.8 points over three seasons and played 63½ minutes in a five-overtime win over Oregon in 1977.

* Lamond Murray, Kennedy: Scored 28 points as a sophomore in Cal’s upset of Duke in the 1993 NCAA tournament, then averaged 24.3 points as a junior before leaving for the NBA as Cal’s career scoring leader.

* Jason Kidd, Oakland: The greatest player in Cal history, Kidd led the Bears to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament as a freshman in 1993 and earned consensus All-America at point guard the following season.

* Leon Powe, Oakland: A two-time all-Pac-10 power forward, Powe posted 20 rebounds and 41 points on consecutive nights in the 2006 Pac-10 tournament.