Previously on Welcome To Cal: Hind Ben Abdelkader.
Of the trio of native Californians signed by Lindsay Gottlieb and the Bears, Mercedes Jefflo is the least heralded. ESPN's recruiting database has a sparse profile that wasn't even updated during the 2012-13 high school season. Videos and articles are harder to find. But that doesn't mean you should sleep on her chances of contributing immediately. After all, she's a 3 star prospect, but women's basketball recruiting coverage just doesn't extend as deeply as it does in the men's game.
A 5'10'' combo guard out of Compton Centennial high school, Jefflo is one the many guards who will compete for the playing time that can't go to Eliza Pierre and Layshia Clarendon any more. And when you think about the skills those seniors brought to the court, you can envision a role for Jefflo as a true freshman. This year, it could be all about her defense:
At her top speed, she'd pick the pockets of some of the top basketball players in the country for breakaway layups. Jefflo, an All-American candidate, has always been a gambler on defense. Time and time again, she would gamble. And time and time again, she would steal balls.
Mercedes is special because she wants to win by any means," Bradley said. "Mercedes is really blessed. Everything you see is all her ability an instinct she was born with. She still has to be coached about staying out of foul trouble and not gambling so much.
A defensive gambler might be just what Cal needs. Eliza Pierre is gone, and Brittany Boyd may have to rein her aggressive tendencies in because the Bears will need her on the court and out of foul trouble. Somebody needs to be that defensive change of pace, and there's no reason it can't be Jefflo.
Scouting reports indicate that Jefflo's offensive game is somewhat unpolished, but that she has been making steady progress over the last few years, particularly as a ball-handler. Like basically every player Lindsay Gottlieb has recruited, she excels in transition. It's hard to imagine this team getting faster, but I think it might be. (Just wait until you get introduced to Courtney Range next week!)
But enough talk - on to the video!
Were you hoping for game highlights? Sorry, I was too. But that video might actually be better, because it does a much better job of introducing Mercedes as a person. And of course, it's always nice to hear someone talk about how excited they are to be coming to Cal!
Her high school career produced some eye-popping numbers - just one example was a 30 point, 10 assist, 9 steal game during a winter tournament. The steals are obviously exciting, and it's easy to imagine Jefflo fitting right into Cal's full-court press. It's a role that, if she's ready for, might just be 8-10 minutes/game. But that's plenty important, and can absolutely make a difference right off the bat.
Welcome to Cal Mercedes! And, another happy belated 18th birthday!