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


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


Football: Will Chris Harper be drafted?

The safe answer: Probably not.

The former Cal wideout is tough to find on most NFL mock drafts, but that doesn’t mean he won’t play on Sundays, coach Sonny Dykes said.

“You never know about the draft and how it’s going to go down,” Dykes said Thursday before the draft’s first round. “The good thing for Chris is there’s only one team that’s got to like him. And there’s a lot to like. He’s a good football player.”

Rounds 2 and 3 of the NFL draft will go today, with rounds 4 through 7 set for Saturday.

Dykes admitted he was surprised when Harper opted to enter the draft after his junior season. He said Harper told him in December he planned to return to school for the 2014 season.

Although he’s far from a sure thing, Harper is Cal’s best hope to keep a 28-year streak going.

Cal has had at least one player taken in the NFL draft every year since 1986, when no Bears were chosen among 333 players taken in what was then a 12-round draft.


Football: The Luke Rubenzer Plan

Luke Rubenzer remains a safety. Until and unless he returns to quarterback.

Coach Sonny Dykes said Rubenzer performed well enough as a safety during spring workouts that he will remain on defense and focus on improving his skills at the position in the months leading to training camp in August.

“It’s definitely something we’ll continue. We’re going to give him the summer to keep improving and get comfortable,” Dykes said. “I think he did a really remarkable job at that position because he had a limited amount of time to prepare for it.

“As hard as Luke works and as competitive as he is, he’ll be doing things every single day (during the summer) to improve things. So he’ll make a jump from April to August just with what he does on his own.”

The Bears moved Rubenzer to safety from quarterback — where he was Jared Goff’s backup last fall as a true freshman — because they were short-handed in the secondary during spring ball. But with more than a half-dozen safety candidates expected back from injury or arriving on campus for the first time in the fall, competition is sure to heat up.

The coaching staff will give Rubenzer two weeks to work at safety once camp begins, which also will give others the chance to show what they can do.

“If he’s not going to play at safety,” Dykes said, “we’ll move him back to quarterback immediately.”

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Football: Injured Bears on the mend, Dykes says

In his post-spring media sessions with reporters Thursday, coach Sonny Dykes said he’s encouraged by the progress of players who missed workouts while rehabbing after injuries or surgery.

“I think everybody’s where you want them to be,” he said.

Dykes said safeties Stefan McClure (quad) and Griffin Piatt (knee) and tackle Steven Moore (shoulder) are probably ahead of schedule and linebacker Nate Broussard (knee) and safety Quentin Tartabull (knee) are on schedule.

“I feel pretty good about the rehab these guys have gone through and where we they are. Obviously, those are some pretty significant pieces to this puzzle,” Dykes said. “You can have a pretty good taste in your mouth leaving spring with what we had. But throw those guys in the mix and all of a sudden you feel a lot better about everything.”

Dykes stopped short of saying all of them would be ready to begin practice on Aug. 10 when camp opens.

“It’s hard to say to what extent (they will be ready),” he said. “I think most of those guys will be part of the team when fall camp starts.”


Football: Dykes says Goff is an `elite’ quarterback

Coach Sonny Dykes said quarterback Jared Goff made a huge leap during recently completely spring workouts.

“I thought he was a completely different player. To me, the biggest jump I’ve seen from Jared was this spring,” Dykes said. “He ended the fall as a really good quarterback. He finished spring practice as an elite-level quarterback.”

Dykes talked about the areas of improvement Goff needed to address, including hitting open deep receivers, improving the timing of his deliveries, getting rid of the ball to relieve pressure on the offensive line, moving and throwing on the run, and understanding that decisions he makes early in a game may differ from those he makes in the fourth quarter.

“He went out with a clear purpose and addressed those issues and I think he’s at a really good place right now,” Dykes said. “He’s got a chance to be one of the best quarterbacks in a league full of good quarterbacks. If he’s one of the best in this league, he’ll be one of the best in the country.”

Dykes added, “Jared’s got a really high ceiling. He has a chance to be a really good football player. I feel like he was way ahead of where he was a year ago.”

Another area where the junior-to-be continues to progress is leadership, Dykes said. A starter since his true freshman season in 2013, Goff has allowed the leadership component to develop organically.

“The good thing about Jared is he hasn’t tried to force that. It’s happened naturally,” Dykes said. “He’s certainly revered by his teammates. They like him, they respect him. They respect him because he’s a good player. They respect him because he’s a good person. They respect him because he does things the right way off the field.

“He’s the kind of guy you want to build your football program around. And he has become really comfortable as a leader. He has those leadership qualities in him and they’re starting to come out now.”


Rugby: Bears face familiar foe in national title game

Cal’s rugby team hopes its rematch with BYU on Saturday in the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Rugby Championships is not a re-run.

When the Bears (17-1) face the Cougars (13-0) at 2 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium outside Salt Lake City it will be the ninth time in 10 seasons the two have clashed in the national title game.

Cal has won five of the previous eight, but BYU prevailed in the past two, including a 43-33 victory in 2014. Overall, the Bears maintain a 10-3 series edge against BYU, but coach Jack Clark knows that won’t mean anything Saturday.

“They’re the defending national champions and they’re undefeated. Say no more,” Clark said. “As daunting a task as it is, we love playing BYU. They bring out the best in us, I assume because anything other than our best would result in a hiding.”

Cal has won its past 11 matches this season, including a 52-15 win over Navy in a national semifinal at Berkeley. BYU toppled Central Washington 35-8 in its semifinal.


Football notebook: Dykes `disappointed’ by Ingram

Coach Sonny Dykes said Thursday he was “disappointed and surprised” when he learned that former assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Pierre Ingram was arrested for solicitation on April 16, adding that the Bears had no choice but to fire him.

The search for Ingram’s replacement is going well, according to Dykes, who is impressed by the quality of those who have expressed interest.

“It kind of speaks to how people view the program, that from a national standpoint we’re an upcoming program,” Dykes said.

Ingram, 30, was arrested as part of a police sting operation and was fired by Cal last Friday.

“Obviously, it’s not anything you ever want to hear. I was disappointed and surprised,” he said. “I think everybody was surprised that knew Pierre, but we had to move on.”

Cal’s 2016 recruits were contacted immediately after the news of Ingram’s arrest, Dykes said. “We got out in front of it,” he said. “We didn’t get anything back but good support.”

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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.


Rowing: No. 1 Bears beat No. 2 Huskies in varsity eight

Top-ranked Cal beat previously undefeated No. 2 Washington in the men’s varsity eight, snapping the Huskies’ eight-year winning streak and taking back the Schoch Cup at Seattle in a matchup of two rowing powerhouse programs.

The Bears split their four races with the Huskies overall, with the Bears also winning the freshman eight race.

“We know whenever we race against a great program like Washington it is going to really hard, and we had a great row today and came out with the victory,” Cal coach Mike Teti said on winning the varsity eight. “We faced a really good crew and whenever you get out of here with a win on their home course, you feel really fortunate.”

Meanwhile, the second-ranked Cal women beat No. 5 Washington in the varsity eight race for the 11th time in 12 years.

“The varsity eight has performed very well all year and it was another great performance for them,” Cal women’s coach Al Acosta said.