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Basketball: Rivals ranks Cal’s class No. 4

Topped by Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb, Cal’s recruiting class is No. 4 in final 2015 rankings released Wednesday by Rivals.com.

Cal coach Cuonzo Martin — like most coaches — has said he’s not obsessed with rankings. Even so, this is rarified territory for the Golden Bears.

Consider the Rivals top-5: 1. Duke; 2. Arizona; 3. Kentucky; 4. Cal; 5. LSU.

Brown, a 6-foot-7 small forward, is rated No. 3 by Rivals, and Rabb, a 6-10 power forward checks in at No. 7. Shooting guard Tyson Jolly is ranked No. 73. Still-to-be-signed small forward Davon Dillard is No. 147.

The only other school with two signed players ranked in the top-10 is Kentucky, with No. 1 Skal Laissiere and No. 10 Isaiah Briscoe.

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Basketball: Want to see Rabb, Brown debut for the Bears? Starting making your plans to visit Australia

Fans who want to see the debut of Cal’s basketball team, with its newly signed recruiting class, will have to travel to Australia.

The Golden Bears will trek Down Under for a foreign tour that will begin Aug. 14 and will include four games against professional teams in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

“It gives us 10 days to practice, so that part is great,” said coach Cuonzo Martin, who will be able to bring his entire team on the trip, including freshmen Ivan Rabb and Jaylen Brown, both rated as top-10 national prospects.

“Just to play against really good competition and to see a different part of the world. I think that’ll be fun for our guys.”

The NCAA allows college basketball teams to schedule foreign trips every four summers.

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Basketball: Jaylen Brown’s signing is official

Cal officially signed high school All-America forward Jaylen Brown on Monday, adding to perhaps the most impressive basketball recruiting class in school history.

“Jaylen is one of the nation’s elite players and we are thrilled he is a Golden Bear,” Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said in a statement. “He is a strong, athletic player with a tremendous work ethic. Jaylen has the skill and ability to play four different positions on the floor.”

A 6-foot-7, 220-pounder from Wheeler High in Marietta, Georgia, Brown was rated as the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect by Scout.com, and is among the top five, according to every major recruiting service.

He joins fellow consensus top-10 prospect Ivan Rabb, a 6-10 power forward from Oakland, and four-star shooting guard Tyson Jolly of Oklahoma City in the class that will enroll at Berkeley next fall.

Brown averaged 28 points and 12 rebounds this season, leading Wheeler to a 30-3 record and the Georgia 6A state title. His two free throws with 0.6 seconds left were the difference in the state championship game, and helped Wheeler to a final No. 6 national ranking, according to USA Today.

“He’s one of the most talented kids I’ve had here at Wheeler, hands down,” said coach Doug Lipscomb, whose past players over 23 seasons include former Cal star Shareef Abdur-Rahim, who went on to a productive NBA career. “Both were very skilled-oriented kids, both rebound the ball, play defense and, most importantly, both are very good people.”

Lipscomb said Brown is versatile and unselfish on the court.

“He should definitely be a plus for Cal,” Lipscomb said. “He’s only going to get bigger and stronger.”

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Basketball: Cal’s 2015-16 roster has depth, versatility and lots of possible lineup combinations

Pending signatures by Jaylen Brown and Davon Dillard, it seems likely Cal’s basketball roster for 2015-16 is complete.

And it’s pretty impressive. A Google search reveals there are two McDonald’s restaurants in the city of Berkeley. The Bears will have three McDonald’s All-Americans on their roster next season.

Here’s a best guess at a depth chart:

Center: Kameron Rooks, Kingsley Okoroh
Power forward: Ivan Rabb
Small forward: Jaylen Brown, Davon Dillard, Roger Moute a Bidias
Shooting guard: Jabari Bird/Jordan Mathews, Tyson Jolly, Stephen Domingo
Point guard: Tyrone Wallace, Sam Singer, Brandon Chauca

The Bears have recruited four newcomers, but in reality coach Cuonzo Martin will have six new players next season because Rooks (knee) and Domingo (transfer) sat out this year.

*** Scout.com’s recruiting experts weigh in on Jaylen Brown.

There are a lot of ways Martin can assemble his lineup.

Martin likes size, so I believe his first impulse will be to start one of his big men alongside Rabb. Rooks is trimmed down from what we saw two seasons ago, and is the better offensive center at this point. Okoroh is the better defender. Figure the Bears try to get a combined 25 to 30 minutes from the two of them.

That still means the Bears can go “small” for 10 or 15 minutes each game, depending on matchups. Obviously, the center-free lineup will be fast and remarkably athletic with scorers all over the floor.

If Martin starts a center, the math tells us someone at the wings will be coming off the bench. Possibly Mathews, almost certainly Jolly, Dillard and Domingo. The competition at the 2 and 3 positions will be ferocious.

This isn’t a bad thing. Martin wants to play aggressive, pressure defense and he needs fresh bodies to make that work. So we should anticipate lots of subbing that will take advantage of a deep roster.

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Basketball: Shocker from Georgia — Bears top Kentucky, UNC and Michigan to land Jaylen Brown

UPDATED

Jaylen Brown, rated the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect by Scout.com, stunned the college basketball world Friday by announcing will play next season at Cal.

“I’m very surprised. He could have literally picked any school in the country and he chose Cal, which obviously is a huge statement for Cuonzo Martin and that program,” said Josh Gershon, a recruiting analyst for Scout.

“It’s one of the biggest surprises in recent recruiting memory.”

Martin landed the 6-foot-7, 210-pound small forward from Wheeler High in Marietta, Georgia, in competition with Michigan, Kentucky and North Carolina. Brown attends the high school alma mater of former Cal star Shareef Abdur-Rahim.

Rivals and 247Sports both rank Brown as the nation’s No. 3 overall prospect and ESPN rates him at No. 4. The website DraftExpress.com projects Brown to be the No. 2 pick in the 2016 NBA draft.

Brown will be paired with top-10 signee Ivan Rabb, a 6-10 power forward from Bishop O’Dowd High in Oakland, to give the Bears an elite recruiting class. Continue Reading

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Basketball: Tyrone Wallace named Bears’ MVP

Junior guard Tyrone Wallace took home the Nibs Price Most Valuable Player honors at Cal’s awards dinner Monday night at the University Club on camps.

The all-Pac-12 point guard also won the Jason Kidd assist award, the Darrall Imhoff rebounding award and the Play Hard award.

Wallace finished the season as the only player in the Pac-12 to rank in the top five in points (4th, 17.1 ppg.), rebounds (5th, 7.1) and assists (5th, 4.0). Having opted against entering the NBA draft, he will return as the league’s active scoring leader and assist leader in 2015-16 with 1,196 career points and 313 career assists through his first three seasons. He also will enter his senior season fourth among active players in the Pac-12 in career rebounds with 526.

Senior forward David Kravish was honored with the team’s Best Defensive Player Award. The four-year starter and two-year captain completed his career as Cal’s all-time blocks leader with 226 in his career.

Kravish played in a school-record 135 games with 125 starts and ranks third in school history with 917 career rebounds with 917. He is the only player in school history with, 1,000 career points, 800 career rebounds and 200 career blocks.

Freshman Nick Hamilton was awarded the Pete Newell Coaches’ Award while junior Stephen Domingo and freshman Cole Welle were each honored with the Strength & Conditioning Award, presented by by Strength & Conditioning Coach Nicodemus Christopher.

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Basketball: Why hasn’t Davon Dillard signed?

Three-star small forward Davon Dillard was the first player to commit to Cal’s recruiting Class of 2015. He was on board with the Bears a full month before five-star power forward Ivan Rabb made his announcement.

But on April 15, when Rabb and shooting guard Tyson Jolly made things official by signing their letters of intent, there was no news on Dillard.

Dillard’s coach at Our Savior New American School in Centereach, N.Y., was vague about reasons that have delayed the 6-foot-5 wing from signing with Cal, but said he remains confident Dillard will play for the Bears next season.

Asked whether Dillard or the school is being scrutinized by the NCAA Clearinghouse, coach Ron Stelzer said, “I’m aware of it. I’m not sure I’m at liberty to say much. We’re in the process of dealing with the situation right now . . . it’s being worked out.”

Stelzer, who also serves as pastor at Our Savior, was not more specific about the reasons for the delay, and said he does not know the timetable for its resolution.

Because Dillard is unsigned, Cal coach Cuonzo Martin is not permitted to talk about him. Likewise, the NCAA does not discuss matters involving player eligibility.

A native of Gary, Indiana, Dillard played only his senior season at Our Savior.

“He’s a good student, a good person,” Stelzer said. “There’s no reason that I can see that he shouldn’t be cleared.”

Stelzer described Dillard as “a good all-around player.” He said his strengths include perimeter shooting and his ability to take the ball “hard” to the basket. “Defensively, I would say he’s at least adequate,” Stelzer said. “He’s not amazing, but he can keep growing there.”

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Basketball: Tyrone Wallace is staying in college

Cal’s prospects for a strong 2015-16 basketball season got a significant boost Thursday when all-Pac-12 point guard Tyrone Wallace announced he will put off the NBA for another year and return to college for his senior season.

“I feel really confident with my decision,” Wallace said at a campus news conference attended by all of his teammates.

*** Click here to watch the video of Wallace’s news conference.

Three days before the deadline for underclassmen to enter the NBA draft, Wallace said he opted to stay based on a variety of factors, including fulfilling a promise to his late grandfather to be the first in the family to graduate from college, and to continue to develop his game.

Wallace said the feedback he got from the NBA was “positive,” but he had been projected as no better than a second-round pick in a draft deep at point guard.

“I think I can get better at being more vocal. That’s one thing coach has always talked to me about, being a coach on the floor, being a leader,” Wallace said. “My strengths are getting to the basket. I feel like I can create for others. I’ll get a chance to show that a lot more next season.”

A native of Bakersfield, Wallace averaged 17.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists last season, his first playing point guard.

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Basketball: Report says Cal is hiring Louisville assistant Wyking Jones to complete coaching staff

It’s going to be a busy day for Cal basketball.

Point guard Tyrone Wallace has scheduled a 12:30 p.m. news conference to announce whether he will return for his senior season or enter the NBA draft.

And a report by the Louisville Courier-Journal says Cuonzo Martin has hired Louisville assistant coach Wyking Jones (pronounced WHY-king) to fill the vacancy on his staff. Jones is replacing Jon Harris, who left to become head coach at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.

Cal has made no announcement about the hiring.

Jones, a 1995 graduate of Loyola Marymount, has spent the past four seasons on coach Rick Pitino’s staff. The Cardinals posted a combined record of 123-30 and won the 2013 national championship. Louisville was 27-9 this season, losing to Michigan State in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA tournament.

Here’s how Pitino describes Jones on Louisville’s athletic website: “He is highly regarded in all circles as a tireless worker and an outstanding communicator with young people.”

Prior to his time at Louisville, Jones spent two seasons as an assistant to Steve Alford at New Mexico, which was 52-18 over that span. Previously, he worked for two years as basketball team travel manager for Nike Elite Youth Basketball.

He began his coaching career at Pepperdine in 2002, spending five seasons under Paul Westphal.

Following his playing career at LMU, where he was a 1,000-point career scorer, Jones played professionally in Italy, France,  Japan, Lebanon and South Korea.

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Basketball: Tyrone Wallace to announce Thursday

Cal junior point guard Tyrone Wallace will announce whether he will return to school or enter the NBA draft in a new conference on campus Thursday.

His mother, Michelle Johnson, said playing in the NBA has been Wallace’s dream since he was 4 years old. She spoke with her son Wednesday afternoon, but said, “I still don’t know. I’ll be just as surprised as you.”

Wallace averaged 17.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists last season, his first playing point guard. He is projected to be a second-round NBA pick in a draft fairly strong at his position.

The website Draftexpress.com on Thursday night projects Wallace to be the third pick of the second round, while NBAdraft.net – which predicts eight point guards will go in the first round — does not have Wallace being picked in 2015.

Wallace’s mother said the pre-draft evaluation her son got from the NBA hasn’t made the decision any easier.

“I think it was OK. It could have been a little bit higher,” she said. “That’s what he’s basing it off.”

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