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2019-20 Cal MBB: The Sophomores

Second-year men could be the key to the season.

NCAA Basketball: California at Arizona State Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time for a look at Cal basketball’s sophomores heading into the 2019-20 season. There’s a bit less mystery here compared to my look at the freshmen, since we have seen many of the second-year players on the court. However, there’s a lot to watch for as well, especially considering the presence of new head coach Mark Fox and his influence on the rotation.

#20 Matt Bradley

Position: Guard

Hometown: San Bernardino, CA

2018-19 Stats: 10.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.0 apg

Bradley was an uncanny 45-96 from three-point range in his freshman season. That’s a cool 47%, and the Bears simply must find more ways to get him comfortable attempts from behind the arc. In contrast, he ended the year at 41% in terms of field goal percentage. Even though Bradley will be dealing with the newly extended three-point line, it’s hard to imagine him hurting the team from long range. Unsurprisingly, he shot 5 for 7 from distance during his best game of the season at Arizona State. Bradley would end the game with 23 points and a season-high 10 rebounds.

#22 Andre Kelly

Position: Forward

Hometown: Stockton, CA

2018-19 Stats: 6.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 0.5 bpg

Kelly’s 55% shooting from the field put him among Cal’s all-time freshman leaders. He also impressed early on, racking up seven games with double-digit points. The Bears would have been lost without his 19 points and 10 boards against San Jose State. However, none of those contests came after a sparkling performance on January 19 in Seattle. Kelly is solidly in the mix for a starting role, but he also has plenty to prove despite the good overall numbers. At his best, Kelly uses his size to get into strong post position which can lead to efficient offensive plays.

#24 Jacobi Gordon

Position: Forward

Hometown: Houston, TX

2018-19 Stats: 2.4 ppg, 1.8 rpg

There is little doubt that an Achilles injury suffered in October 2017 kept Gordon from showing his full potential last season. He was labeled a four-star recruit by Scout but started only one game in his first season with Cal. Perhaps the biggest reason to dream about next season is the prospect of a healthy Gordon who continues to work out this offseason. It’s certainly better than picturing Gordon at Oregon, who also issued an offer prior to his commitment to Cal.

#42 Blake Welle

Position: Forward

Hometown: Santa Cruz, CA

The brother of former Cal forward and fan favorite Cole Welle, Blake played only four minutes last season and grabbed his first rebound on February 16 against USC. Nevertheless, he was a standout in basketball and lacrosse at Aptos High with senior year averages of 16.2 points and 7.7 rebounds. Blake is unlikely to rank high on the depth chart, but he is of course related to Cole who earned a scholarship as a senior thanks to sheer hard work.

#35 James Zhao

Position: Guard

Hometown: Shanghai, China

The 6’4” Zhao was unable to play last season due to an injury, but he made a big impression off the court when the Bears played in his home city of Shanghai. He is a product of the Dulwich College preparatory school in London. Zhao has also taken part in international competition for the Chinese Under-17 squad. There is too much uncertainty to predict major minutes in his future, but there’s no doubt that Zhao is an interesting young man.