Basketball Gutierrez makes NBA debut

Ex-Cal star Jorge Gutierrez got his first playing time in an NBA game, contributing one point and a steal in five minutes of the Brooklyn Nets’ 104-89 win over the Sacramento Kings.


Basketball: Nets sign Jorge Gutierrez

Jorge Gutierrez, who went undrafted by the NBA after winning 2012 Pac-12 Player of the Year honors as a senior at Cal, has signed a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets.

Gutierrez was averaging 13.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 1.2 steals for the Canton Charge of the NBA Developmental League. With the Nets, he will play under coach Jason Kidd, another former Cal point guard.

A native of Chihuahua, Mexico, Gutierrez, 25, will become just the fourth player from Mexico to reach the NBA.

One of the popular Cal players in recent years, Gutierrez initially made his mark as a defensive specialist. Coach Mike Montgomery’s first recruit to Berkeley. Gutierrez became a starter by his sophomore season and as a senior averaged 13.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists for a 24-10 team that tied for second in the Pac-12.

“We are absolutely delighted for Jorge,” Montgomery said. “He is one of my favorite kids I have ever coached. He deserves it. I hope he makes his mark in the NBA.

“He will help regardless because he is that type of kid. We are all really happy for him.”

A year ago, Gutierrez was named to the D-League’s all-defensive and all-rookie teams. Last summer he helped Mexico to a victory over Puerto Rico in the gold medal game of the FIBA Americas Championships.

Signed to the Nets training camp roster last fall, he appeared in five preseason games, averaging 1.8 points and 3.0 rebounds before being waived on Oct. 26.


Basketball: Earl Shultz ready for his big day

Sunday’s game against USC is big for Cal, coming four days after a lopsided loss to UCLA.

But the occasion is no less significant for Dr. Earl Shultz, who will be honored at halftime with the Pete Newell Career Achievement Award.

For Shultz, who played on Newell’s two Final Four teams at Cal and became a lifelong close friend of the late coaching legend, there can be bigger honor.

“For the guys who played for Pete,” Shultz said this week, “it’s the ultimate to be associated with Pete.”

Shultz was a sophomore reserve guard on the 1959 Cal team that won the NCAA title, then became a starter the next season when the Bears returned to the Final Four at the Cow Palace, losing to Ohio State in the title game.

He jokingly refers to himself and his teammates as “dinosaurs,” but these were Cal’s greatest teams. His first two seasons as a varsity player, the Bears went 53-6, won a pair of conference titles and helped Newell close out his career with the last of eight straight victories over John Wooden and UCLA.

The Bears haven’t been back to the Final Four since.

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Basketball: Dave Butler to Pac-12 Hall of Honor

Dave Butler, a four-year (1983-86) starting forward who helped Cal to its first postseason bid in 26 seasons, will be inducted into the Pac-12 Basketball Hall of Honor on March 14 during the conference tournament at Las Vegas.

Butler still ranks 19th on Cal’s career scoring list (1,291 points) and sixth in rebounding (814). He was Pac-10 Freshman of the Year in 1983 and led the Bears in rebounding three times.

He still holds the Cal record of 113 career starts and set single-game school marks of 20 free throws made and 24 attempts against Arizona State in 1987.

Butler and the Bears ended a 26-year postseason drought with an NIT appearance in 1986, and they returned the next year, advancing to the tournament’s quarterfinals.

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Football: Jahvid Best says he’s healthy, excited to be back at school to help coach running backs

Jahvid Best, back at Cal as a student assistant running backs coach, said he currently has no lingering effects from the series of concussions that ended his NFL career in 2011 after just 22 games.

“My health is fine,” he said Thursday during an informal media gathering to announce his return to school as a student and part-time coach. “I have no issues that are dragging on. It’s good that I left the game healthy. That’s very important to me.”

Best, 25, whose All-America career at Cal was ended when he suffered a head injury on a spectacular fall after a midair collision during the 2009 season, suffered two additional concussions in his second season with the Detroit Lions. He hasn’t played in a game since Oct. 16, 2011.

The Lions kept Best on the payroll through the 2012 season, but he never was cleared to play and the team finally released him last July.

“Oh man, that was tough for me,” Best said of leaving the game. “My playing days are over. I knew it was going to happen eventually. It happened a lot quicker than I wanted it to. So now I’ve decided to come back to school and figure out what’s next for me.”

Click here to read the rest of my story.


Football: Ex-Cal players get NFL combine invites

Former Cal players Deandre Coleman, Khairi Fortt and Richard Rodgers have received invitations to the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Feb. 19-25.

 Here are thumbnails on all three (courtesy of Cal athletics):

* Deandre Coleman, DL, 6-5, 315, Seattle, WA (Garfield HS)

Coleman played in all 49 games possible with 25 starts during his career at Cal over the past four seasons after redshirting as a true freshman in 2009. He finished his career with 125 tackles, 26.5 tackles for loss (-89 yards), 7.5 sacks (-39 yards), three pass breakups, two fumble recoveries and four quarterback hurries. Coleman was a third-team All-Pac-12 selection of Phil Steele and an honorable mention All-Pac-12 choice by the league’s coaches as one of three Cal players to start all 12 games in 2013. He led the Golden Bears in tackles for loss (career-high 9.0) and tackle for loss yardage (-27 yards), while ranking third in sacks (2.5, -4 yards) and first among defensive linemen in tackles (40). Coleman played in the 2014 Senior Bowl following his senior collegiate season and contributed two tackles and a half tackle for loss for the winning South team.

* Khairi Fortt, LB, 6-2, 240 (Seattle, WA/Garfield HS)

Fortt was one of 12 national semifinalists for the 2013 Butkus Award at the collegiate level for the award given annually to the nation’s top linebackers at the high school, collegiate and professional levels. Fortt started the first nine games of the 2013 season at Cal in his first and only year of action for the Golden Bears after redshirting in 2012 following his transfer from Penn State. Fortt, who missed the final three games of the 2013 campaign due to injury, recorded 64 tackles to rank third on the team after leading the squad for most of the season. He was 18th in the Pac-12 with an average of 7.1 stops per game. He added 3.5 tackles for loss (-5 yards) and 0.5 sacks (-1 yard). In two seasons at Penn State from 2010-11, Fortt played in 22 contests and compiled totals of 50 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss (-23 yards) and 2.5 sacks (-16 yards). Fortt was an early entry for the 2014 NFL Draft who is foregoing his final season of collegiate eligibility.

* Richard Rodgers, TE/WR, 6-4, 245 (Worcester, MA/St. John’s HS)

Rodgers played in 35 of 37 possible games while starting 11 contests during three seasons at Cal from 2011-13. He finished his career with 59 receptions for 896 yards receiving (15.2 ypr) and two touchdown catches. Rodgers had his best campaign as a junior in 2013 when he totaled career highs of 39 receptions and 608 yards receiving to rank third on the team in both categories. He had 20 catches for 288 yards as a 2012 sophomore. Rodgers was an early entry for the 2014 NFL Draft who is foregoing his final season of collegiate eligibility.


Football: Cal’s Super Bowl influence

Three former Cal players will be in uniform at MetLife Stadium today for Super Bowl XLVIII.

The headliner, of course, is Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, who has waited all week to let his legs do his talking.

The former Oakland Tech HS star rushed for 1,257 yards and 12 touchdowns during the regular season and leads all ball carriers with 249 postseason rushing yards.

Seahawks teammate Brandon Mebane and Denver Broncos running back C.J. Anderson help give the Bears representatives in the Super Bowl for the 12th time in 13 years.

Lynch, Mebane and Anderson all are making their Super Bowl debuts.


Three other ex-Cal players took bows Saturday at the NFL Honors show at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

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Football: Marshawn Lynch gives lesson on how to become the Media Day story without really trying

Former Cal star Marshawn Lynch, threatened by the NFL with a $100,000 fine, participated in Tuesday’s annual Super Bowl Media Day.

Sort of.

Here are links to a few stories about Lynch’s unusual day with the media:

ESPN.com writes about how the Seattle Seahawks’ running back said his fans don’t care if he talks.”They just want to make sure I show up to perform,” he said.

– The Seattle Times provides a complete (albeit abbreviated) transcript of all Lynch had to say during his brief session with reporters.

– New York Post columnist George Willis reports that “Beast Mode was on Least Mode” during his 6 1/2 minutes with the media.

– The New York Daily News reports that Lynch made himself into the story of Media Day by trying not to be a story at all.

Yahoo Sports gives us all the details of Lynch’s endorsement deal with Skittles.

– Here is Cal grad and NFL Media columnist Michael Silver’s story on Lynch from an interview he did last week before the running back knew whether he’d attend Media Day.

– And, finally, Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith tells NFL.com he hasn’t seen a running back quite like Marshawn Lynch.


Football: Ex-Cal star Keenan Allen named NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year by writers

His season ended with a playoff loss at Denver last weekend, but San Diego Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen was named the NFL’s 2013 Offensive Rookie of the Year by the Professional Football Writers of America.

The former Cal star led all NFL rookies with 71 catches for 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns. He added six catches for 142 yards and two TDs in the playoff loss to Denver.

A third-round selection of the 2013 NFL Draft, Allen set team rookie receiving records in catches and yards as the league’s first rookie since 2011 to go over 1,000 yards receiving and the fifth since 2000.

Allen had back-to-back 100-yard receiving games twice, the first Chargers rookie to accomplish that since 1960, and his five total 100-yard games was also a San Diego rookie record.

He had nine receptions in two games, a regular-season high 128-yard receiving effort at Washington.

Allen played three seasons at Cal from 2010-12 and is the Golden Bears’ all-time leader in receptions (205), while ranking third in receiving yards (2,570) and touchdown catches (17).