Basketball: Shooting guard Tyson Jolly signs with Cal

Cal announced the signing Wednesday of Tyson Jolly, a four-star shooting guard from Oklahoma City who originally signed with the Bears a year ago before opting to spend this season at a prep school.

“We’re very happy to have him on board. He’s a great addition to our program,” Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said. “He’s a very talented young man, a tremendous character guy. He plays extremely hard and gives us an upgrade from a toughness standpoint.”

At 6-foot-4, Jolly averaged 20.2 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists last season at Putman City West High. He was named the Oklahoman’s Big All-City Player of the Year.

Jolly enrolled this fall at the Elev8 Sports Institute in Delray Beach, Florida, this fall in order to improve his academic standing.

Martin appreciates the fact that Jolly stuck with Cal even after his educational detour.

“Those are the guys you fight for to the end,” he said.

Scout.com rates Jolly as the No. 24 shooting guard in the country. He is classified as a four-star prospect by both Scout and Rivals. Jolly also had offers from Gonzaga, Oklahoma State, SMU, Tulsa and Texas-El Paso.

Cal expects to get news Thursday from Charlie Moore, a four-star point guard from Morgan Park High in Chicago. Moore visited Cal two weeks ago and will choose among the Bears, Memphis and Virginia Commonwealth.

Moreau Catholic High’s Oscar Frayer, who committed to Cal more than a year ago, did not make an announcement on the first day of the early signing period. Sources say he may reclassify to the class of 2017 and attend either a prep school or junior college for a year before choosing a college.


Basketball: Cal breezes to exhibition win, looks forward to Friday opener vs. Rice

Cal showed off its newcomers in a 93-58 exhibition win over Carroll College at Haas Pavilion on Tuesday night, and freshman Jaylen Brown said the Bears are just getting started.

Asked what he expects Friday night when the 14th-ranked Bears open their regular season at home against Rice, Brown said, “Maybe the competition will be a little bit different, but I expect us to dominate the game.”

Brown scored 17 points in 17 minutes and fellow freshman Ivan Rabb, playing in the same building where he led Bishop O’Dowd High to the state championship last season, contributed 11 points and 11 rebounds.

“I think they both did a little good job,” said Tyrone Wallace, the Bears’ senior all-Pac-12 point guard, who had 15 points, six assists and four rebounds. “I expect the team to grow from this.”

So does Brown, the 6-foot-7 forward who was rated one of the nation’s top five high school players a year ago.

“The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement,” Brown said. “We have a lot of young guys but it’s a long season and we have a lot of time to grow. Hopefully, we’ll get better step by step.”

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Basketball: Cal debuts in exhibition vs. Carroll College

The 14th-ranked Cal men’s basketball team makes its debut Monday night in an exhibition game against Carroll College of Helena, Montana.

Tipoff is 7 p.m. at Haas Pavilion. The game will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.

The Bears have potentially their best team in years with all-Pac-12 point guard Tyrone Wallace and starting guards Jordan Mathews and Jabari Bird all returning. Cal also welcomes freshman forwards Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb, both consensus top-10 national prospects as high school seniors a year ago.

The Fighting Saints, an NAIA program, already have played four regular-season games, posting a 3-1 record. They are averaging 99 points, including contests where they scored 119 and 121. They also lost 79-72 to Pacific, a Division I program, in a Saturday night exhibition.

The team’s top scorer is 6-foot junior guard Zach Taylor, who averages 20.8 points, while sophomore wing and Napa native Ryan Imhoff is contributing 18.8 points and 6.8 rebounds. Carroll is shooting 45 percent from the 3-point arc through four games.

Carroll is coached by Dr. Carson Cunningham, who began his college playing career as a point guard at Oregon State, then transferred to Purdue. He guided the Saints to an 18-11 record in his second season last year.


Football: Oregon thrashes Bears 44-28

The rain didn’t matter this time.

Oregon spotted Cal to a 10-point lead Saturday night at Autzen Stadium, then took charge with a 31-point first-half blitz on the way to a 44-28 victory in front of 56,604 fans.

Two years after the Ducks drowned the Bears 55-16 in an Oregon downpour, it was Cal’s inclement play – not the sometimes rainy conditions – that set the tone.

Oregon ran up 446 yards in the first half – more than the Bears had given up in six of their previous eight games — and sent Cal (5-4, 2-4 Pac-12) to its fourth straight defeat. The Ducks wound up with a school-record 777 yards of total offense.

“We did not play well defensively,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said. “I didn’t think we played well on either side of the ball. It didn’t have anything to do with the weather.”

The Bears get another shot at a sixth win and bowl eligibility next Saturday in Berkeley against an Oregon State team that dropped to 0-6 in Pac-12 play after a 41-0 loss to UCLA. Cal has now lost seven straight games over two seasons when trying to become bowl eligible.

“It’s going to test our character. It’s something coach Dykes just talked to us about. How are we going to respond? It’s a three-week season,” quarterback Jared Goff said. “If we want to go to a bowl game we’ve got to start winning.”

The Bears still have not beaten any of the league’s perennial heavyweights in three seasons under Dykes. They are now 0-11 against Oregon, USC, UCLA and Stanford in three seasons, and 1-8 in the month of November.

The Ducks (6-3, 4-2) beat the Bears for the seventh straight time, and have outscored them 317-132 during the streak.

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Academics: Football, men’s basketball make small improvements in grade-rate scores

The Cal football and men’s basketball teams, whose poor academic performance received scrutiny in recent years, made incremental improvement in the latest Graduation Success Rate (GSR) data released by the NCAA.

The football program improved one percent from 2014, eight percent from two years ago to a 52-percent graduation rate. The men’s basketball program scored 55 percent, up nine points from last fall and 17 points since the 2013 report.

Cal’s GSR scores remain last in the Pac-12 in football, but have inched to No. 9 in men’s basketball.

The information used to generate the GSR is based on scholarship student-athletes who arrived as freshmen or transfers from 2005-08 and completed their degrees within six years. As a result, none of the athletes involved in the current results played for either Cal football coach Sonny Dykes or basketball coach Cuonzo Martin.

As recently as 2013, Cal’s GSR for football was 44 percent, worst in the Pac-12. The men’s basketball program ranked no better than second-to-last in the conference for six straight years through 2013 and had not reported a GSR score above 50 percent dating back to at least the 2004-05 school year.

Cal stresses that the classroom performance of its football and basketball players is better reflected by looking at the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate (APR). The football team showed a 46-point APR jump from 2011-12 to 2012-13, and the university expects another leap when the next results are released in the spring.

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Basketball: Cal ranked 14th in preseason AP Top-25

The Cal basketball team is ranked 14th in the Associated Press preseason Top-25, its first appearance in the preseason poll in six years.

The Bears were ranked 13th in the 2009-10 preseason poll, before going on to win their first conference championship in 50 years under coach Mike Montgomery.

North Carolina earned the No. 1 spot, securing 35 of 65 first-place votes. Kentucky (10 first-place votes), Maryland (14), Kansas (5) and Duke (0) round out the top-5.

Virginia got the remaining first-place vote and finished sixth in the poll. The Bears face the Cavaliers in Charlottesville on Dec. 22.

Gonzaga is the highest-rated team in the West at No. 9.

No. 11 Arizona is the top-rated Pac-12 team. Utah, at No. 16, is the only other Pac-12 team in the Top-25, although Oregon checks in at No. 26.

In the interests of disclosure, I am an AP Top-25 voter again this season.

I voted Cal No. 13.

Here’s my Top-25:

1. North Carolina; 2. Maryland; 3. Kentucky; 4. Virginia; 5. Iowa State; 6. Indiana; 7. Duke; 8. Arizona; 9. Kansas; 10. Oklahoma; 11. Gonzaga; 12. Wichita State; 13. Cal; 14. Villanova; 15. Utah; 16. Vanderbilt; 17. LSU; 18. Purdue; 19. Oregon; 20. Michigan State; 21. SMU; 22. Connecticut; 23. Xavier; 24. Michigan; 25. Butler.


Football: Frustrated Golden Bears lose third in a row as drought vs. USC reaches 12 games


Disappointment and anger after its two previous defeats turned to unbridled frustration for Cal on Saturday after a 27-21 loss to USC in front of 52,060 fans in the Joe Roth Memorial Game.

There was frustration over an official’s call but even more over another offensive performance that has the Bears wondering what has gone wrong.

“I think we’re all frustrated,” coach Sonny Dykes said after the Bears lost their third game in a row and dropped their 12th straight to the Trojans. “We should be playing better than we’re playing on offense, no question about it. We’ve got to get it figured out.”

The Bears, who averaged 51 points in their first three games of the season, were held to season-low totals for yards (389) and points and have failed to reach 25 points the past three games.

“As an offense, we believe we’re underachieving tremendously,” senior receiver Bryce Treggs added. “We have way too much talent, we’re way too good to only be scoring 21 points.”

The Bears (5-3, 2-3 Pac-12) had so many possibilities after starting the season 5-0. They were disappointed with themselves for turning the ball over six times in a 30-24 road loss to then-unbeaten Utah and upset by their worst effort of the season in a 40-24 loss at UCLA.

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Basketball: Visiting point guard prospect likes Cal

Few people at Haas Pavilion late Friday night were more interested to see what the Golden Bears looked like than the fresh-faced 17-year-old sitting courtside.

Charlie Moore, rated the 15th-best point guard prospect in the nation by Scout, was in town for his official recruiting visit. And he liked what he was watching.

“It’s a great game. They’re competing out there,” he said of the intra-squad scrimmage that went to three overtimes before ending just minutes shy of midnight.

Moore, a 5-foot-11, 170-pounder, plays at Morgan Park High in Chicago. His stock shot up after a strong summer and he’s now rated a four-star prospect, the top point in Illinois and the No. 65 overall high school talent in the country, according to Scout.

He is a priority for Cal coach Cuonzo Martin, who will lose all-Pac-12 point guard Tyrone Wallace to graduation after this season.

Moore already has visited Virginia Commonwealth and Memphis and expects to check out Iowa State.

Where does Cal fit into the equation?

“Oh, Cal is right there,” he said, his eyes lighting up. “I love their program.”

Moore toured the campus Friday and took in the view of the Bay Area from Memorial Stadium.

The early signing period begins Nov. 11, but Moore said he’s not sure when he will make his decision.


Basketball: Golden Bears give fans 3 overtimes in just-before-midnight madness scrimmage

Who ever heard of a three-overtime intra-squad scrimmage?

Cal fans may be in for a fun basketball season if Friday night’s Blue-Gold scrimmage in Haas Pavilion is any indication.

A crowd of about 1,500 watched as the Gold team outlasted the Blue squad 51-48 after the score was tied at the end of regulation and again after a 2-minute first overtime and a 1-minute second OT.

A free throw by Jaylen Brown and two by Jordan Mathews accounted for all the scoring in the 1-minute third extra period before fans went home happy just before midnight.

And why not? The event was free, and Cal students were treated to free pizza on the way in and free T-shirts on the way out.

These were not the Bears we can expect to see at mid-season. The action was sloppy and the tempo slowed to a crawl early in the second half, even with the new, shorter 30-second shot clock.

But there were plenty of glimpses that suggest Cal can be what months of preseason hype has suggested.

Here’s my take on how the Bears’ key players performed (along with my unofficial stats):

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