Are The Cal Golden Bears Contenders This Season?


After years of mediocrity and failing to get to the NCAA tournament, the Cal Golden Bears finally have reason for hope.

More from Cal Bears

In the span of three weeks, the Bears got commitments from Tyson Jolly, a 6-4, 175 lbs. shooting guard and four star recruit, Ivan Rabb, a 6-10, 220 lbs. power forward who is rated as the fifth best basketball prospect in 2015 (Scout), and Jaylen Brown, a small forward who many consider to be the best prospect in the class of 2015.

This wave of tremendous recruits comes along with the great news that star point guard Tyrone Wallace is staying for his senior season, and one time McDonald‘s All-American Jabari Bird decided to stay as well. Wallace, in particular, was stellar for the Golden Bears last season, leading them in PPG, RPG, and APG, while Bird provided a spark off the bench, but could not find his rhythm for most of the year.

But with new recruits Rabb and Brown coming into play, Wallace doesn’t have to do everything for the Bears. Instead he can focus on scoring inside and out, and rebounding with his great length. With other scoring options in Brown and Rabb, Wallace won’t attract as much attention as he did a season ago either, making it easier for Wallace to score.

Live Feed

California vs. Texas Tech Prediction, Odds, Trends and Key Players for Independence Bowl
California vs. Texas Tech Prediction, Odds, Trends and Key Players for Independence Bowl /


  • UCLA Football: Interesting facts and information about the Bowl GameGo Joe Bruin
  • UCLA vs. Cal highlight games for In-State Rivalry WeekGo Joe Bruin
  • College Football Picks Against the Spread for Every Top 25 Team in Week 10Betsided
  • Cal Basketball: How does Jaylon Tyson’s waiver denial impact the Golden Bears?Busting Brackets
  • What channel is USC playing on today, Oct. 28?FanSided
  • Brown’s strengths are obvious. His athleticism and ability to drive, taking defenders off the dribble are exemplary, and will make him a force as soon as he steps foot on a college basketball court. His defense has also been praised as maybe his greatest strength, while his length poses problems for opposing forwards. And at 6-7, 215, he can guard almost anyone at the forward position.

    Perhaps Brown’s only flaw is his lack of a consistent jump shot. While in high school, he struggled to hit perimeter shots and occasionally struggled at the free throw line as well. If Brown can correct this small error in his game before the 2015 season starts, look for him to have a breakout season.

    Rabb has similar upside and size. At 6-10, 220, Rabb possesses the size and athleticism to dominate the college game, with elite rebounding and post scoring. He can score via post hooks, turnaround jumpers, and even drop steps, rare for a freshmen power forward in Division I basketball.

    With Jabari Bird, Jordan Mathews, and Tyrone Wallace all returning for another year with Cal head coach Cuonzo Martin, and Rabb and Brown coming in to contribute right away, this might be the Golden Bears’ most talented team since the 1997 team that made it to the Sweet 16. That 1997 squad was a team that featured Ed GraySean Marks, and even star NFL tight end, Tony Gonzalez but this is a team that might be even more talented.

    Another barometer of how much success the Bears have this upcoming season will be how well they compete in conference play. With teams like title contenders Arizona, and tournament teams in Oregon, and UCLA, the Pac-12 Conference is solid top to bottom. If the Cal Bears can finish atop the Pac-12 conference, or even be the runner up, and they perform well in Pac-12 tournament, they could definitely be a tough matchup in the NCAA tournament for any team.

    While the pressure being put on this Cal basketball team to succeed is relatively unfair because of where they have finished the last few seasons, the NCAA tournament seems to be an expectation this year, while the Sweet 16 seems to be the goal.

    With so much senior leadership returning, and the potential star power of Brown and Rabb, Cal has one of its best chances to make a splash in the tournament than it has had in a long time.

    If Martin can make use of Brown and Rabb’s athletic ability, while still finding a way to incorporate veterans Wallace, Bird, and Mathews, the Bears will find that they have a very formidable team — perhaps even a team that could compete for a spot in the Final Four come March.

    Next: Golden Bears Position Preview: Defensive Line