1. How would you grade the Bears season in context of everything that happened this past off-season?
thedozen: On a scale of 1-10, 5. This was basically the worst season anyone can remember, but we knew going in how much talent had departed from the roster, not to mention the head coach. This squad was mostly overmatched but fought hard during conference play. We can also say that Cal beat two teams that are still dancing in San Diego State and Cal State Fullerton.
boomtho: I’d rate it a D+. Like thedozen mentioned, we knew given the turnover (and attrition from recruiting class) that happened when Cuonzo left, this year would be a tough year. That being said, the team was probably even worse than most expected (myself included), whichi s why it’s less than the average C grade for me. However, the silver lining for this season was a ton of playing time for talented youngsters who are going to define the next 2-4 years of Cal basketball. It’s great that guys like Justice, Darius, and JHD got significant playing time and had the chance to work through mistakes in a pressure-free environment. In addition, Marcus Lee had a prominent role throughout the season - maybe that makes us a somewhat interesting grad transfer destination? Last, we’re still in the mix for some intersting recruits, which would put a positive spin on the whole season. And a win against Stanford never hurts!
Rob Hwang: I’m giving it a C with the possibility of it jumping to a B come the start of next season. The staff did the best with the talent they had on the roster, with a roster that was also severely unbalanced. We had 2 post bigs with no legitimate sub behind them, and the outside shooting was inconsistent all season long that we couldn’t balance the floor enough to give our bigs or our perimeter guys a chance to be successful. How this offseason improves our squad not only through recruiting but through development and the implementation of a program identity and system will be paramount in setting a solid foundation for a pretty talented squad to succeed.
2. Who are you looking forward to seeing next season from the current roster?
thedozen: I had the privilege of breaking down Justice Sueing’s game film from his time at Mater Dei, and the wing lived up to my high expectations as a freshman. With 14 ppg, Sueing was a strong candidate for the conference’s All-Freshman Team despite being omitted.
boomtho: Darius and Justice had the biggest impact of the freshmen, so they’d be my immediate answer. I’m also excited to see Paris Austin once he’s eligible to return.
Rob Hwang: I’m going to pick two here. Paris Austin and how he settles in as the floor general will be a point to watch. Darius McNeill and his switch to the 2 will also be interesting if he can get more into his rhythm being such a great shooter from outside and not having to work so hard at facilitating and shooting.
3. Reports have surfaced that Cal is adding to the recruiting targets for 2018 in local 4-Star recruit (former UCONN commit) James Akinjo from Salesian in Richmond, CA and 7 foot 3 center Connor Vanover (former Memphis commit) from Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nevada. How would you like to see Cal close out this recruiting cycle? What positions are of most importance?
thedozen: Get as many strong prospects as possible! Landing Jordan Brown would be excellent too. Seriously, I won’t feel sorry for any team whose potential commit gets poached by the Cal program. Obviously big men are at a premium with Okoroh and Lee departing.
boomtho: We’re at the point where we need talent, at all positions, right now. So I’m fully supportive of Cal going after any and all talent recruits who Wyking and the staff believe can cut it academically at Cal. I think grabbing 1-2 recruits would be a solid way to close out the year - especially if (fingers crossed) one of them is Jordan Brown. Either way, I have to say that Wyking’s recruiting has been the one consistent positive through this year.
Rob Hwang: Let’s be real. James Akinjo would be an immediate fill either into the starting line-up as the starting PG or be a solid 6th man. Connor Vanover would slide immediately into the 5 and be the perfect in the paint compliment to say...a 5-star PF up the freeway in Napa? With the loss of Don Coleman that allows us to pick up two more players and if we were to nab any one of these guys along with Jordan, that would immediately raise our base level of talent significantly. With that, the expectations for HC Wyking Jones would also be elevated.