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Cal Basketball: Talking Monty Ball With John Foletta

The second part of our basketball chat with John Foletta of Rivals! Can Jabari Bird replace Allen Crabbe without the Bears experiencing a dropoff?


This is the second of our two-part interview with John Foletta, who was happy to dish with us on all the big issues regarding Cal men's basketball. Make sure to check out the Cal basketball big board over at Rivals ($)!

Do we know why Kaileb Rodriguez decided to transfer?

I know Kaileb’s father has suggested that the decision to transfer was made only recently and that it was his alone, but that’s just not the case. As early as December, I began hearing he would not be back with the team in 2013-14 due to what was framed as "off the court problems." There were no major transgressions as I understand. It was more the accumulation of smaller issues.

Can Jabari Bird come in and immediately fill in the void following Allen Crabbe's departure?

Depends what you think Crabbe’s contribution was. In terms of points and rebound production, no, Bird won’t be able to replicate those numbers on day one.

But, I do think Cal will be a better team next year. That’s by no means a knock on Crabbe.

Solomon’s growth last season was truly transformative and I’m confident – as are the Cal coaches – you’ll see a first-team all-conference season from him. The fact that he’s matured emotionally has had everything to do with his improvement.

Now, as opposed to slumping shoulders and sulky behavior when things aren't going well, Solo reconstitutes himself and works harder.

I'd rate him among the two or three most athletic big men in the Pac-12 and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect somewhere in the neighborhood of 16ppg and 9/10rpg.

Where would you rank Cal's recruiting class among all of the Pac-12 schools?

This is a strong recruiting class, quite possibly Monty’s best in Berkeley. There’s disappointment among some Cal fans that the staff missed out on Gordon, Marcus Lee, and a few other pieces of local talent, but I wouldn’t dwell on that.

Cal, Washington, and UCLA have more or less been lumped together for the conference’s second-best class.

Outside of a point guard, though, I’m not sure the Huskies landed anyone really special. And while I think Alford’s son will be a nice addition to the Bruins, I don’t see how they plan on finding floor time for all the shooting guards they’ve signed.

Arizona does have an impressive class but that’s par for the course in Tucson, and both Gordon and Rondae Jefferson will experience growing pains. There’s no doubt Gordon’s a special talent, but keeping him and his sizable ego happy could create an interesting team dynamic.

Cal, on the other hand, got help in the two most important areas: shooting and size.

Monty hasn't been getting the big men while at Cal like he did when he was across the Bay, both with regards to quality and quantity. Is Monty the one to blame or does this has to do with his assistant coaches?

I don’t know that I’d assign blame to any one person.

I will say that Montgomery takes a far more judicious approach to recruiting than guys we typically label "great recruiters."

Where other coaches promise the moon, Monty undersells, believing it’s better for team chemistry and for getting the most out of his players.

This is a great staff. Travis DeCuire, Gregg Gottlieb, and John Montgomery are all excellent recruiters.

If you’re looking for a reason Cal hasn’t landed that marquee big man, it probably has more to do with Mike’s recruiting philosophy than with the staff’s ability to "sell" the program.

Is Cal purposely avoiding the 1-and-done type of talent?

No, not intentionally. But the Bears also aren’t going to take a run at a guy just because he’s a 5-Star stud. He has to fit the system. And they’re also not going to spend time on the road gushing over a kid enamored with the Kentucky’s of the world.

Many kids approach recruiting looking for their head coach to be their buddy. Montgomery doesn’t endorse that model. He’s of the mindset; do you want a buddy or do you want someone who’s going to make you the best possible player?

Who's Roger Moute a Bidas, and why should Cal fans think we have a chance to land him? (UPDATE: This question was asked before Moute's commitment).

Until recently, many expected Roger would reclassify for 2014, meaning he’d play prep ball for another year. That meant most programs eased off on the gas. Cal, however, stuck with him.

He’s 6-7, the brother of NBAer Luc, and is extremely athletic.

If there weren’t any academic concerns, this kid would have a sizable offer sheet.

He’s still raw, but VERY long and could provide Cal immediate help on the glass.

As for his feelings about Cal and what the story is with his academic concerns, we've got more on that here and here.