#22 California Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

California Golden Bears

2015-2016 Overall Rank: #22
Conference Rank: #4 Pac-12

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California had a rough debut season under Coach Cuonzo Martin. The Golden Bears looked pretty good early, but then lost eight of nine, including six straight Pac-12 games. That basically took Cal out of the NCAA Tournament picture. But the team did rebound nicely by winning five in a row after that. But the season ended on another low note with Cal losing six of their final eight contests. This time, consistency will be key.

2014-15 Record: 18-15, 7-11
2014-15 Postseason: none
Coach: Cuonzo Martin
Coach Record: 18-15 at California, 142-97 overall

Who’s Out:
The biggest loss for Cal is David Kravish, a 6-10 forward who averaged 11.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks during his senior season. Kravish was one of two players to start all 33 games and his presence in the paint will not be easy to replace. Christian Behrens and Dwight Tarwater were both part-time starters a season ago. The loss of Behrens, who left school early to pursue professional opportunities, leaves more depth concerns in the frontcourt, as does the loss of Tarwater, a graduate transfer from Cornell. Tarwater was only 6-6 and did take a lot of outside shots, but he was pretty tough too.

Who’s In:
According to just about everybody, this is Cal’s best recruiting class ever. Jaylen Brown was a huge signing for the Golden Bears and he is one of the top five incoming freshmen in the nation. The 6-7, 225 pound forward is a superb athlete and amazingly versatile. He can handle the ball or bang around in the paint. That versatility will give Coach Martin plenty of options. However, Brown is best suited to be a small forward and attack the basket from there. Ivan Rabb is the other top ten recruit headed to Berkeley. The 6-11, 220 pound Oakland product should be the starting power forward from day one. Roman Davis, a lanky 6-7 forward, will add depth. Cal also adds transfers Stephen Domingo and Nick Kerr. Domingo spent two years at Georgetown and will add more size on the wing.

Who to Watch:
Tyrone Wallace and Jordan Mathews form one of the best backcourt duos in the country. Wallace can do it all and led the team with 17.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.3 steals. The 6-5 senior will earn some All-American consideration. However, he will not need to do quite as much this season with the influx of talent, so do not be surprised to see Wallace’s scoring and rebounding production drop off. But that does not make him any less talented or valuable to this team. Mathews is the shooter on the team. He knocked down 44.3 percent of his team high 158 three-point attempts. Mathews is not just a one-dimensional shooter though; he averaged 13.6 points per game and is not afraid to attack the basket with his 6-4, 203 pound frame. If Coach Martin wants to play big, which he usually does, and if Brown and Rabb are in the starting five, it could leave Jabari Bird on the outside looking in. But Bird is a former five-star recruit who has dealt with some injuries during his first two seasons with Cal. Last year he started 21 games and made 23 appearances and averaged 10.5 points per game. And that was nowhere near his potential. Starting or not, Bird will be on the floor quite a bit.

Final Projection:
There is a lot of depth here, including seven-footers Kingsley Okoroh and Kameron Rooks. Both are just sophomores and Coach Martin would prefer to play big as much as possible. There is also Roger Moute a Bidias, Sam Singer and Brandon Chauca, who were part of the regular rotation last year. Singer, a tough 6-4 guard, averaged 24.0 minutes per game and dished out 2.9 assists. If the frontcourt lives up to its potential, this is a team that will compete for a Pac-12 title. If players like Okoroh, Rooks and Rabb are not ready for a large role, the Golden Bears will fall a little. But even a little fall puts them well into the NCAA Tournament field.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Tyrone Wallace, Senior, Guard, 17.1 points per game
Jordan Mathews, Junior, Guard, 13.6 points per game
Jabari Bird, Junior, Guard, 10.5 points per game
Jaylen Brown, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Ivan Rabb, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 66.5 (198th in nation, 11th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.3 (191, 5)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.0 (138, 6)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.6 (155, 10)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.6 (244, 8)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.9 (94, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 42.6 (155, 10)
Rebound Margin: 0.9 (155, 8)
Assists Per Game: 12.5 (177, 8)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.1 (47, 3)

Madness 2016 NBA Draft Rankings:
#3 Jaylen Brown
#28 Tyrone Wallace

Madness 2015 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#4 Jalen Brown
#7 Ivan Rabb
#90 Tyson Jolly


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