#39 California Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

California Golden Bears
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #39
Conference Rank: #5 Pac-12
The surprise return of Ivan Rabb puts California in a great spot to return to the NCAA Tournament. Many thought Rabb would head to the NBA after his freshman campaign, but the 6-11 forward opted to return Cal. As a freshman he averaged 12.5 points and 8.6 rebounds and kept getting better as the season progressed. Rabb is a dangerous scorer with his back to the basket, but he is developing a decent scoring game facing the basket as well. With Rabb in the paint, the Golden Bear offense always has a big guy to work through. Rabb will also lead what should again be a very strong rebounding team.
2015-16 Record: 23-11, 12-6
2015-16 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Cuonzo Martin
Coach Record: 41-26 at California, 165-108 overall
Who’s Out:
Getting Rabb back is huge, but Cal did lose one of their top freshmen from last year. Jaylen Brown was selected third overall in the NBA Draft after averaging 14.6 points and 5.4 rebounds as a freshman. Brown is a big loss, but the Golden Bears also must move on without guards Tyrone Wallace and Jordan Mathews. Wallace led the team with 15.3 points per game and added 5.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists. Mathews was the team’s top outside shooter, connecting on 41.6 percent of his 214 attempts on the year.
Who’s In:
Charlie Moore is the lone incoming freshman, but he could make the biggest impact of the four newcomers. Moore is the point guard of the future and will play a large role right away. He is a quick guard who will be a nice change of pace off the bench. Junior college transfer Don Coleman can handle the ball too and will be in the mix for minutes at the point. Grant Mullins, a graduate transfer from Columbia, will help provide a scoring punch off the bench. He averaged 13.3 points per game last year with the Lions. Roman Davis redshirted last season to add some strength and should work into the regular rotation in the frontcourt.
Who to Watch:
Cal expects bigger things from Jabari Bird this season. The 6-6 senior has been inconsistent during his collegiate career, but he is a very good outside shooter and can use his size to attack the basket. If Bird puts it all together, he will greatly improve on his 10.4 point per game average of a year ago. Another big guard, 6-7 Stephen Domingo, could be in for a better senior season too. Domingo transferred in from Georgetown and averaged just 10.6 minutes per game during his first year with the Golden Bears. He is a proven playmaker and another year in the Cal system should help. Sam Singer figures to step into the starting point guard role. He had some great games running the show last year and is very effective in the half court. Singer is not going to put up huge numbers, but he is the steady point guard this team needs.
Final Projection:
The backcourt needs consistent scorers, but the frontcourt needs somebody to step up beside Rabb. The good news is Coach Cuonzo Martin has a couple big and experienced options. Kinglsey Okoroh is a 7-1 junior who earned 17 starts last season. He averaged just 1.5 points and 1.9 rebounds in 10.8 minutes per game though. Kameron Rooks, who stands seven feet tall, was a little more productive, averaging 3.6 points and 4.9 rebounds in 17.2 minutes per game. It is great for Cal to have a couple big men who can come in and swat away shots, but it would be better if one of them was more of a threat to score in the paint.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Sam Singer, Senior, Guard, 3.7 points per game
Jabari Bird, Senior, Guard, 10.4 points per game
Stephen Domingo, Senior, Guard, 1.7 points per game
Ivan Rabb, Sophomore, Forward, 12.5 points per game
Kingsley Okoroh, Junior, Center, 1.5 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 74.9 (140th in nation, 8th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.3 (61, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.9 (69, 5)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.6 (19, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.9 (176, 6)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.3 (105, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 65.6 (314, 12)
Rebound Margin: 6.8 (25, 3)
Assists Per Game: 12.8 (203, 10)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.3 (140, 7)
Madness 2017 NBA Draft Rankings:
#9 Ivan Rabb
#40 Jabari Bird
Madness 2016 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#75 Charlie Moore