#53 California Golden Bears: College Basketball 111 in 111

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Welcome to The Sports Bank’s third annual college basketball season preview series.  Two years we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  Last year, we were slightly more aggressive and expanded to 111 teams in 111 days and will do so again as we look ahead to the 2012-2013 season.

We will rank the 75 power conference teams and top 36 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

After UCLA and Arizona, the Pac 12 is fairly open with several teams figuring to be line for a berth into the NCAA Tournament.  Included in that group is the Cal Golden Bears who must replace two valuable leaders from a year ago.

CALIFORNIA GOLDEN BEARS
Last Season: T-2nd, 13-5 in Pac-10, 24-10 overall
Predicted Pac-12 Finish: 5th

Projected Depth Chart
C:  David Kravish (So)/Bak Bak (Sr)
PF: Richard Solomon (Jr)/Robert Thurman (Sr)/Christian Beherns (So)/Kaileb Rodriguez (Fr)
G/F: Allen Crabbe (Jr)/Jeff Powers (Jr)/Khalil Johnson (Fr)
G:  Brandon Smith (Sr)Ricky Kreklow (So)/Tyrone Wallace (Fr)
PG: Justin Cobbs (Jr)

Gone: SG-Jorge Gutierrez, C-Harper Kamp, SG-Alex Rossi (transfer-Valparaiso), SG-Emerson Murray (transfer-Seattle)

2012-2013 Outlook:
With Jorge Gutierrez and Harper Kamp graduating, Allen Crabbe is most likely to assume the role as team leader to go along with his title of top returning scorer.  Crabbe has terrific size for a college wing and a well-rounded offensive attack including his ability to stroke it from deep.

Justin Cobbs retains the role as starting point guard.  He made the most of his first season as a Golden Bear after transferring in from Minnesota.  Brandon Smith figures to replace Gutierrez in the starting line-up.  Smith was a key reserve a year ago and is more than capable of running the point which will allow Cobbs to play off the ball as well.

Experience is a concern behind the Crabbe/Cobbs/Smith trio.  Jeff Powers has played sparingly in his two seasons at Cal while Missouri transfer Ricky Kreklow saw limited minutes in his lone season with the Tigers.  Both players are known more as shooters and will bring some offense off the bench.  Freshmen Tyrone Wallace and Khalil Johnson offer more versatility on the wing and could steal minutes on the wing.

Replacing Kamp in the middle will be David Kravish who was very productive off the bench during his freshman campaign.  The x-factor for Cal will be power forward Richard Solomon who was suspended by Mike Montgomery early in the season and then ruled academically ineligible which forced him to miss most of the Pac 12 season.  He needs to have a bounce back season for the Golden Bears to reach their maximum potential.

Solomon’s issues allowed Robert Thurman to play a larger role off the bench last season.  He and Bak Bak will be the main reserves off the bench once again.  Seven-foot Danish center Sami Eleraky was supposed to provide some more size off the bench was not cleared by the NCAA.  Cal did find another seven-footer in freshman Geoffery Frid but is not ready to make an impact yet at a high Division One level.  Freshman Kalieb Rodriguez is another option inside for Montgomery.

Advancing to the NCAA Tournament would be an accomplishment for Cal this season and the starting five must be extraordinary for that to happen since there are question marks on the bench.  Expectations will be heightened after this year though due to the commitment of 2013 wing Jabari Bird who headlines what is already an impressive recruiting class that has the Golden Bears excited for the future.

Player to Watch: Allen Crabbe
Crabbe without question has NBA potential and could potentially bolt for the association after this season.  We know he can score but developing his all-around game and off-the-court leadership will be essential if Cal is going to return to the NCAA Tournament and not have to settle for a trip to the NIT.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/22 vs. Drake (Anaheim Classic)
11/23 vs. Georgia Tech/Rice (Anaheim Classic)
11/25 vs. St. Mary’s/Drexel/Xavier/Pacific (Anaheim Classic)
12/2 at Wisconsin
12/9 vs. UNLV
12/15 vs. Creighton

OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#54 Kansas State Wildcats
#55 Nevada Wolfpack
#56 Colorado Buffaloes
#57 Iowa State Cyclones
#58 Northern Iowa Panthers
#59 Colorado State Rams
#60 Iowa Hawkeyes
#61 South Florida Bulls
#62 Valparaiso Crusaders
#63 Illinois Fighting Illini
#64 Arkansas Razorbacks
#65 Wichita State Shockers
#66 George Mason Patriots
#67 Virginia Cavaliers
#68 Villanova Wildcats
#69 Maryland Terrapins
#70 Marshall Thundering Herd
#71 Iona Gaels
#72 Northwestern Wildcats
#73 Oklahoms State Cowboys
#74 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
#75 USC Trojans
#76 UConn Huskies
#77 Harvard Crimson
#78 Xavier Musketeers
#79 Ole Miss Rebels
#80 Clemson Tigers
#81 Oregon State Beavers
#82 Texas A&M Aggies
#83 Providence Friars
#84 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#85 Oklahoma Sooners
#86 Lehigh Mountain Hawks
#87 Washington State Cougars
#88 Long Beach State 49ers
#89 Belmont Bruins
#90 Vanderbilt Commodores
#91 Dayton Flyers
#92 Houston Cougars
#93 UCF Knights
#94 Old Dominion Monarchs
#95 Oregon Ducks
#96 LSU Tigers
#97 South Carolina Gamecocks
#98 Seton Hall Pirates
#99 Georgia Bulldogs
#100 DePaul Blue Demons
#101 Boston College Eagles
#102 Penn State Nittany Lions
#103 Arizona State Sun Devils
#104 Virginia Tech Hokies
#105 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#108 TCU Horned Frogs
#109 Mississippi State Bulldogs
#110 Utah Utes
#111 Nebraska Cornhuskers

David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)

You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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