So Monday night was pretty sweet. Ivan Rabb decided to stay home. Sunshine was pumped, Cal twitter was ablaze in good feelings, and Arizona fans got to be disappointed. Truly a welcome change from our last few encounters.
In the modern era of recruiting, Rabb may be the biggest recruit to come to Berkeley. Jason Kidd probably eclipses him, but with the rise of recruiting websites and folks whose lives are dedicated to writing on the topic, the talent of recruits is focused on more than ever before. Rabb is the highest rated recruit since another power forward from Oakland, Leon Powe, came up to Berkeley. In fact, now three of the four most ballyhooed Cal prospects of the last 25 years have been from . The other three prospects, Jason Kidd, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, and Powe, all made their teams. There is no iconic victory over Duke without Kidd. The 1995-96 Bears don't make it to the tournament without Shareef. We'd never see Powe tear Oregon apart in the 2006 Pac-10 tournament. Rabb can take a team to another level, much like those guys did. He may even have a better foundation around him than those guys did.
There are few key things that his commitment does for the program, some are immediate and others set the foundation for the future of Cal basketball.
The most important part is that he fills the biggest need we have, the 4 spot. He can immediately slide into the hole vacated by David Kravish, and give the Bears a legitimate back-to-the-basket threat for the first time since Leon Powe. Some his strengths, taken from Rob's scouting report here, are those that fit our offense extremely well. In the flow of our transition offense, or when we attempt to get in transition, Rabb can provide a good pair of hands for a rim run, or for a layup from trailing the play.
Rabb's commitment to Cal may also keep Tyrone Wallace in school for his senior year. They can mutually benefit each other. Ty often forayed into traffic, often triple teamed, and without a solid option to hand off to. Rabb provides a soft pair of hands and a big threat for opposing defenses to stick on. If Ty comes back, there will be many fast breaks, ones that he couldn't finish last year that Rabb will clean up. The roar that will come from Haas when that first putback dunk occurs will be electric.
The next important piece of the puzzle is how local big time recruits will view Cal with Cuonzo Martin leading the coaching and recruiting efforts. We weren't in the competition for some of the bigger East Bay targets in the past, such as Aaron Gordon and Brandon Ashley. Having Ivan Rabb this year, and Oscar Frayer coming next year, the pipeline is opening that much more for future recruits. Sealing the local cornerstones gets the Davon Dillards, the Tyson Jollys, and potentially the Jaylen Browns.Even if Rabb only stays a year, it tells recruits that Cal is the place to be, and I believe that the campus and community can sell the rest. It gives us the same national profile that talents like Marshawn Lynch, Desean Jackson, and Jahvid Best brought to the football program in the Tedford heyday. Credibility and tradition are two things sorely needed for a program whose last title was 56 years ago. Even though the legacy of Pete Newell is something that should be held in the highest of esteem, new tradition needs to be built around the basketball program, and it can be, starting now.
The last piece of the puzzle is hope. To quote the Shawshank Redemption, "Hope is a good thing, and no good thing ever dies." The collective freakout from Rabb's commitment shows how dedicated a fanbase can be when given a reason to believe. Cal fans are very well acclimated to disappointment. After last week's Caleb Swanigan freakout, there was a lot of panic going into Monday's announcement. Tosh-gate, the Hillmary, Riley running against Oregon State, and any other number of disappointments have made a lot of people bitter about the state of Cal sport. While pinning the collective hopes of a college fanbase on a tall 18 year old is asinine, this is a ray of hope. Rabb is building block for the future while providing for our greatest needs at the moment. We may not be the perennial championship contenders, but we are on the right path. Maybe we can have nice things for once.