What a recruiting period. What an off-season. The Hype for next season is unreal. In this Summer Basketball Series we'll take a look at the players we have acquired along with how our current players have progressed this year. We will culminate the series by looking at our 2015-2016 team, how we expect them to line-up and what type of offense and defense we could be running next season.
Part 1. Ivan Rabb.
It's pretty hard to describe this kid. I want to call him raw, but he's polished enough that an offense can run through him. I want to say his floor is high, but his ceiling seems outrageously high. Just when you think you have seen it all with Ivan, he grows another weapon and to another level.
Last time we saw him play competitively, he was icing the CIF 2015 Championship game with a pair of free throws. Missed the first, but won the game with the second. All on the Pete Newell Court at Haas Pavilion. He played with a chip on his shoulder, wanting to beat perennial winner Mater Dei High School. Ivan knew from the start of the game he was going to have to win it for Bishop O'Dowd. For me, that was the biggest take away from this game. Ivan brings a lot to the table as a player, but his unwavering mentality and ability to rise to the occasion is the best. He plays better with the spotlight, but does not demand it. With this aspect of his game alone, I can't wait to see what he does against the likes of Utah and Arizona.
Fast forward one week and Ivan is in Chicago for the 2015 McDonald's All-American game. The rumors this week was insane. The words of package deal with Jaylen Brown and Caleb Swanigan had started to arise. Ivan who was reportedly announcing after his High School Championship game held off to celebrate his team's victory. Despite the looming decision of where he would be playing his college ball, Ivan had a solid game. 5-7 Shooting with 6 rebounds and 1TO in 15 minutes of play. A few of his points came mostly on fast break dunks, but his others came on second chance opportunities. Hauling in 3 offensive rebounds, Ivan gave the West multiple second chances to score. Ivan looked more comfortable on any side of the paint now. His ability to shoot with either hand in the paint creates more shots for him and allows him to be more creative with the ball in his hands. Not every post possession had to be a dunk, and not every midrange catch had to be a jumper. Ivan has diversified his game so much that he can now stretch and compact the defense at his will. The biggest take-away from this game was that he is able to play with guys that dominate the ball. It seemed that Ivan actually was having more fun playing with these guys, especially knowing that he did not have to be a facilitator or the best player, he has grown a natural knack of letting the game come to him instead of trying to force it. His game has definitely matured over the course of this showcase circuit. Ivan still looked like he played with a heavy heart throughout this game, but that would change.
One week later, Ivan had committed to The University of California, Berkeley. He then flew to New York City with a weight off his shoulders. The Jordan Brand Classic. The final event in the Showcase Circuit. Ivan, genuinely, looked like he was having fun at the Barclays Center. His recruitment was over and he looked to just enjoy these games now. He easily had his best game over these 2-3 weeks of showcase games. 6-9 from the field with 1 made 3PT. 12 Rebounds. 1 Assist. 1 Block. 2 Steals. When Ivan is having fun and playing the game without pressure, his explosion looks better, he runs the floor faster and is more active to get his team fired up. Getting this maximum output will be a task for Coach Martin. This is not to say Ivan plays terribly under pressure, but now with better teammates and better competition, Ivan needs to enjoy playing rather than trying to carry his entire team and school, emotionally and physically.
Ivan now has the ability to go to the basket with both hands, finish with either, can also shoot with either including a floater with both hands. His mental game has matured. His determination is relentless. Come basketball season, we will probably see another version of Ivan Rabb. That is an evolution I cannot wait to witness myself.
California Love. California Rising.