Ivan Rabb and Jaylen Brown pic.twitter.com/TFrB5vJTzD— Steve Jones (@SteveJones_CJ) January 19, 2015
With the 2015 Cal basketball recruiting looking like it's wrapping up, it's time to take a look at what exactly at the quartet of talent Cuonzo Martin has managed to assemble in his first year at Berkeley. Of course we're still having to wait on Davon Dillard's letter of intent to fax itself in, but if these four players stay together, it's one for the ages.
Cal's 2015 recruiting class is an historic one for the program. After the commitment of Jaylen Brown to California, the Bears jumped from the 32nd spot to finish with a top 5 recruiting class according to the 247Sports composite rankings, trailing Duke, Kentucky, LSU and Arizona. That's three bluebloods, and we haven't even gotten to the other programs that Cal jumped, like Ohio State and Michigan State and Louisville and Syracuse and dozens of others. It's crazy.
Cal basketball is the only school with 2 top 8 recruits in ESPN, top 7 in Rivals, top 5 in Scout, top 7 in 247Sports pic.twitter.com/vZiWdIOGf6— Avinash Kunnath (@avinashkunnath) May 2, 2015
Jaylen gives Cal a offensive threat that can create for himself on the wing or on the blocks, no longer will we be dependant upon the guard play of Tyrone Wallace, Jordan Mathews or Jabari Bird. Instead of focusing on perimeter play (low probability shot) to open up mid-range/close-range (higher probability shot), we can now attack and play our drive-and-dish game that was so effective midseason. By having Jaylen and Ty able to drive/dish/finish/rebound it opens up a whole new offense to create around them and also for some particular post players.
The great thing about Jaylen is he combines all the physical traits you want, size, athleticism, and strength, with a tremendous mental makeup. He has the look of an NBA player physically, and then he plays hard every time out on the floor, and mentally understands what it takes to be great from a preparation and work perspective
Capable of punishing defenders with physical drives, Brown is an entertaining open court player. He rebounds very well, is a good passer and has a body that matches his athleticism meaning he should be college ready from the day he steps on campus. While his jump shot has improved over the last year, it remains the biggest area where Brown can improve.
The best thing about Brown is that his worst-case scenario is as an athletic forward who can defend multiple positions at a high level and also have a lot of success getting to the basket. In reality, due to his competitive mental makeup and improvement as a scorer over the last couple of years, there's every reason to think he'll keep evolving as a shooter and scorer and do those things very successful in college as well.
"From day one, Ivan Rabb was a priority for our program," Martin said. "He is important to us not only for our basketball team, but for our program for years to come. When you have a guy of this magnitude and caliber of talent in your backyard, you want to do everything in your power to make it work for him. He made it a priority to give us every opportunity to show him what we are about. It is very important to keep your local guys home. We built a great relationship with Ivan and landed one of the best in the country.
His biggest weapon is his positioning and lateral explosion. His go-to move has become a left-handed baby hook shot over his right shoulder. It has become pretty automatic from the low blocks. Rabb started the game by using the move multiple times mixed in with a few pump fakes. The impressive part on all of his possessions was his positioning. He always put himself in a great spot on the blocks to be able to catch and explode straight up over his right shoulder for the left handed baby hook. The consistency is still improving but his ability to catch and explode into his go-to move is very impressive.
ESPN: Ivan Rabb is one of the most athletic players in the class of 2015 and he uses that athleticism defensively to block shots, get deflections and gain offensive rebounds with a quick second jump. His post-up game against a set defense is developing as he can score with either hand.
Perhaps his best athletic trait is footwork. Rabb nimbly moves from one spot to another, shifting from block to block gracefully and gliding from the rim to the high post. With his back to the basket, he utilizes spin moves, drop steps, up-and-unders and other moves that make his actual finishes painfully simple for him and frustrating for his opponents.
"A big time talent, Rabb is a high end power forward talent who scores with either hand around the rim, blocks shots, and runs the floor. Rabb will need to add strength and it will be important to keep expectations reasonable as he improves his footwork and adjusts to the college game. But, there's no question that he should make an immediate and notable impact the second he suits up."
"The thing we saw in Tyson Jolly, he is a great young man who we love to be around," Martin said. "He has great passion and wants to be a part of what we are trying to do. Tyson's athleticism and level of toughness is exactly what we want. He has a will to win basketball games, whether it is blocking a shot, getting a big rebound, scoring a big basket or making a big free throw. He does all those things to help his team win and does it with a tremendous level of passion."
Tyson Jolly may become the best finisher around the basket on the Cal roster. He has great body control to absorb the contact, but he also has the body strength and awareness to adjust his shot depending on the defense. In his game tape from the Tarkanian Classic, it is easily noticeable that he is confident and fearless when attacking the basket. His self-confidence oozes out when he not hesitant after he takes two steps towards the basket. Even more surprising was that he attacked McDonalds All-American Center Stephen Zimmerman in that game. If he can do that against arguably the most athletic center of the 2015 class, his ability bodes well for college basketball.
Eric Bossi, Rivals: "There is not a more competitive player in the senior class and his natural leadership ability is apparent at all times. He makes enough jumpers to keep defenders honest, attacks off the dribble and plays intense defense."
Athleticism is without a doubt one of his greatest strengths. (Just watch this video.) Dillard is a SC Top 10 waiting to happen. He definitely will posterize anyone that stands in his way. Davon also has elite quickness in a variety of ways as well. Vertically, Dillard explodes for dunks, rebounds, blocks. Laterally, he moves his feet before his body makes the move. His first step is one of the quickest and makes his move based on the defender after that first jab. Hand-wise, he keeps his hands moving with and without the ball, making sure he keeps defenders on their guard while giving him the opportunity to get the shot he wants. Davon is also outstanding and absorbing the contact to make sure he gets a clean shot. He recognizes defenses quickly and is able to adjust his body when attacking the basket.
Evan Daniels, Scout: "Dillard is a very good athlete that finishes well through contact and is especially tough to stop when he attacks the rim in transition."
Here are the team rankings from each site:
Rivals: Jaylen Brown (ranked 3rd nationally), Ivan Rabb (7th), Tyson Jolly (73rd); Davon Dillard (ranked 147th)
Scout: Jaylen Brown (1st), Ivan Rabb (5th), both Jolly and Dillard listed as 3 stars
247Sports: Jaylen Brown (3rd), Ivan Rabb (7th), Davon Dillard (150th), Tyson Jolly (161st)
ESPN: Jaylen Brown (4th), Ivan Rabb (8th), Davon Dillard (21st best small forward), Tyson Jolly (69th best small forward)