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.
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.
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.”
Cal football’s recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach has been placed on administrative leave following his arrest last week in Oakland as part of prostitution sting that netted five johns, officials said Monday.
Pierre Ingram, 30, recently named the Bears’ passing game coordinator, was arrested after police said he allegedly solicited an undercover officer online and then showed up April 16 at the Motel 6 on Embarcadero.
He was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor solicitation of a lewd act, was booked, cited and released, and given a court date to appear next month.
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On the short list of players who showed the most progress during Cal’s spring workouts, which ended Saturday, coach Sonny Dykes points to sophomore wideout Jack Austin.
“Jack had a great spring,” Dykes said. “If you went back and said who was the most improved? Jack would certainly be in the conversation. Particularly the past two weeks. If he keeps getting better he’ll start to push Trevor (Davis).”
Austin, a big receiver from Chino Hills, did not catch a pass last fall as a redshirt freshman, but seems to have worked himself into position to change that this season.
He made several nice plays during Saturday’s spring game, including a diving catch, and is listed No. 2 behind Davis at the “X” wideout position on Cal’s end-of-spring depth chart.
“It’s a very competitive group. We’ve got great receivers on both sides. Trevor Davis and I are competing a lot,” Austin said. “I’m going to keep competing through spring and then summer and fall as well.”
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.
The Cal Spring Football Experience on Saturday was a little tough to define.
“It wasn’t practice, it wasn’t a game, it was a little weird,” quarterback Jared Goff said.
“It’s very weird,” said senior running back Daniel Lasco, an 1,100-yard rusher last season who did not carry the ball once in the often scripted format. “The schedule was weird. I wish we would have knew what was going on. (I thought) we’re just going to put the ball out here and start playing.
“I guess in the end it was all good.”
The two-hour event at Memorial Stadium, attended by about 1,000 fans and televised by the Pac-12 Networks, included just 52 snaps in full 11-on-11 tackle mode. Otherwise, there were situational plays, 7-on-7 drills without tackling, plus punts and field goals.
Coach Sonny Dykes came away pleased because the team achieved what it wanted and no one was injured. And that’s no small consideration in spring ball.
“We tried to make it as fan-friendly as possible, but the important thing was get work done, take care of our players. I thought we accomplished that,” he said.
Dykes said the Bears simply don’t have enough healthy defensive backs to run a full-fledged scrimmage. He also noted that he watched USC scrimmage recently and “they didn’t tackle one person the whole time.
“Spring games are what they are,” he said. “I don’t think people necessarily come for the football. They come to enjoy interacting with the players.”
Cal signee Ivan Rabb had 14 points and 12 rebounds, helping the West team to a 118-116 win over the East in the Jordan Brand Classic at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Friday night.
The 6-foot-10 forward from Bishop O’Dowd, a consensus top-10 national prospect, signed with the Bears on Wednesday after committing on Monday.
Spring ball ends Saturday with the Cal Spring Football Experience, a two-hour event highlighted by the annual spring game at Memorial Stadium. The event begins at 11 a.m. and the stadium opens at 9:30 p.m. Admission is free.
The spring game will be televised live on the Pac-12 Networks and can be seen streaming through www.Pac-12.com
The Cal rugby team will face Navy on Saturday at Witter Rugby Field at 1:30 p.m., allowing fans attending the Cal Spring Football Experience (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.) to make the short walk to watch the Bears’ most successful sports program.