Whether we like it or not, Justin Cobbs and Richard Solomon are playing their final games as California Golden Bears in the next few weeks. Their period at Cal has had their sets of highs and lows and they've frustrated us as much as they've thrilled us, but it's safe to say they helped guide one of the most successful runs in Golden Bear basketball history.
They will be tough to replace. It's hard to say whether the recruits we're bringing in will be able to fill in their big shoes.
Ahmaad Rorie has been planning to be a California Golden Bear for a long time. He committed to Cal nearly two years ago. They offered him early and he jumped right into it with full enthusiasm.
Measuring in at 6’0, 175 pounds, Rorie figures to contend immediately to be the starting point guard along with Sam Singer and Tyrone Wallace. He definitely is a strong shooter, so he’ll hopefully take up right where Cobbs will leave off.
"My ability to shoot goes back to my freshman year," Rorie said. "I used to always be in the gym shooting with my AAU coach, and he'd talk to me about how I needed to make sure I had a good 3-point game, because a lot of point guards can't shoot. I also worked a lot on my midrange because he always said that about five percent of players across the world have a really good midrange game, so I worked on it a lot."
Rorie has had a strange senior season. After being cleared to play for powerhouse Montverde Academy in Florida, Rorie decided to return to his hometown in Tacoma (Wa.) to play for his old school Lincoln due to class scheduling issues that would have conflicted with his ability to complete summer bridge requirements at Berkeley. The reason Rorie wanted to attend Montverde was for their high-class academics.
SM: Berkeley and Montverde both have pretty high academic standards. Did that play a role in your decision to transfer?
AR: That was actually the main reason. They have the best academics and the best basketball. I was trying to get the best of both worlds, just like I will at Cal.
Academics is important to me because of the way I was raised. My mom always tells me to focus on things other than basketball.
Rorie figures to be one of those players who contributes immediately to the rotation and will probably emerge into a three or four-year starter depending on his development. Real excited to see him at Berkeley.
While Cobbs's replacement will probably be ready to go in short time, it's much tougher projecting how good Idrissa Diallo will be at the next level, particularly in replacing Richard Solomon. Kameron Rooks figures to take the place of Solomon in the lineup next season when Cal needs two bigs out there. How will Diallo do as the backup big spelling minutes for either of the two primaries?
The good news with Diallo is that he already has all the tools to be an excellent defensive big man in this league. He's able to recognize shot blocks and is very good at grabbing rebounds.
The tough news is that he's very raw as an offensive player. His best offense comes in transition, where he is at least very good at running the break.
Verdict? Rorie should be a solid contributor next year and Diallo figures to make his mark somewhere down the line. But neither is ready to come in and immediately shoulder the load that Cobbs and Solomon carried the past several seasons for Cal basketball. It will be up to this year's freshman class to make that next jump and mature on the job so that Rorie and Diallo aren't pressed too quickly into action.
Still, it does seem like Mike Montgomery has put together two solid recruiting classes in a row. If he can land his Euro big in Jakob Poeltl (who is still deliberating between Cal and Utah now that Dusan Ristic picked Arizona), he'll be quite pleased with his haul this year.