Basketball: Martin OK that Bears likely to enter season with just 10 available scholarship players

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.”

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Football: Keenan Allen healthy and eager; makes fair argument for college players to be paid

Three months after undergoing surgery on his right ankle to repair a pickup basketball injury, Cal preseason All-America wideout Keenan Allen is moving well and excited about a season now just two months away.

I visited with Allen this morning at the Bears’ football offices, and he said his recovery is ahead of schedule.

“My ankle is doing very good. It feels completely normal — it doesn’t have any pain,” he said.

Doctors told him three or four weeks ago he could beginning running straight ahead, without making changes of direction.

“A week and a half ago, I started cutting. That was feeling real good so they said I could start running a little bit of routes,” Allen said.

Cal’s players report to training camp Aug. 3 in preparation for their Sept. 1 opener at renovated Memorial Stadium against Nevada.

“Right now I think I’m back full speed,” he said.

Allen’s only restriction: Basketball.

“I would say (it’s) on hold, not over,” he said of his hoops career. “It’s definitely not going to make me any money.”

Allen likely will be preparing for the NFL by this time next season — he said he only would reeturn for his senior campaign if he’s not going to be a first-round draft pick.

In the meantime, he continues to earn exactly what every other Division I football player does — a full scholarship and not a dime more.

Given the news this week that college football is headed to a four-team playoff following the 2014 season — bringing more money still to the sport — I asked Allen whether it’s time players get a slice of the pie.

“I definitely would like to see college football players get paid,” he said. “I think it would bring another encouragement, motivation to the players. It’s definitely — I wouldn’t say a struggle — but it’s definitely hard. Just going from high school, being with your parents for 18 years, then you come here by yourself and it’s hard to maintain (the standard of living).

“Being paid would definitely be great.”

And perhaps only fair, given that every other participant in college football cashes in on some level.

“On behalf of the guys who have jerseys out there that are being worn, that could be another reason to get paid, too,” Allen suggested.

When I asked if being paid is ever discussed among players, Allen said, “We always talk about it.”

So I asked him how much would be fair or appropriate, and Allen gave it a bit of thought, trying to figure how many games BCS playoff teams could wind up playing (as many as 15, possibly), and came up with a number.

“I would definitely say about $10,000, something like that.” he said. “”Why not? I don’t see what would be wrong with it. I think it is fair.”







A break for summer vacation

Hoops are a memory. Spring sports are over. Football season will be here before we know it.

In the meantime, I’m off for a bit of vacation with the family.

I’ll tell you all about it upon my return. Hope all of you find some time to exhale and recharge.

And try to get along with each other while I’m gone.



Football: Recruiting notes

ESPN.com’s Greg Biggins had a couple of significant news items today, both with ties to Cal:

  • Biggins reported that Aric Armstead, a mammoth offensive lineman considered one of the top overall recruits in the nation, has decommitted from USC. Armstead mentioned Cal as one of his possible visits, but sounds fairly wide open now.
  • Biggins also reported that Shaq Thompson really enjoyed his visit to Oregon last weekend and now considers Oregon, Washington and Cal as co-leaders. My hunch is Cal is still the leader, but the way the rest of this season goes down could be a factor.

Football: Cal building a WR class

The Bears reportedly have received an oral commitment from athlete Cedric Dozier out of Washington. Dozier is believed to be head to Cal to play wide receiver. Dozier had offers from much of the Pac-12, among others.

If Dozier ends up at WR, that means Cal already has three wide receivers among its eight oral commitments so far, with the others being five-star recruit Bryce Treggs as well as Kenneth Walker.

If Shaq Thompson winds up at Cal as many believe he still will, he’s expected to play wide receiver as well. That could give the Bears one of the top WR classes in the country, and there could be others.

It’s a good thing, too. The receiving corps would look pretty thing without an influx of talent next season. The Bears are losing Marvin Jones, Michael Calvin and Coleman Edmond. That would leave Keenan Allen and not much else, especially with the academic status of Kaelin Clay up in the air. Certainly, these incoming freshmen know they have a chance to play right away at Cal, possibly even start.