The California Bears had a loaded roster last season that consisted of future lottery pick Ivan Rabb, top-three NBA Draft selection Jaylen Brown, sharp shooter Jordan Mathews, veteran guard Tyrone Wallace and talented guard Jabari Bird.
Unfortunately for the Bears, they lost in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament to Hawaii without the presences of Bird (back spasms) and Wallace (broken hand).
With Brown and Wallace in the NBA and Mathews with Gonzaga, it’s up to Rabb to lead the team in 2016-17.
The Bears surely won’t be as talented, but they could have stronger chemistry, better role allocation, and a star who is experienced and mature.
In fact, Rabb should be a Player of the Year and an All-American candidate nationally. He will be in the running for Pac-12 Player of the Year, will likely lead the Bears to the NCAA Tournament in his sophomore campaign, and will be a double-double machine this season.
Last season, Rabb averaged 12.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, 0.9 assists, and 1.2 blocks in 29 minutes per game. He shot a very efficient 62 percent from the field and 67 percent from the free throw line.
Rabb did all this by averaging just 7.7 field goals per game. Those shot attempts should greatly increase with the departures of Wallace, Brown and Mathews, which means his numbers and impact will sky rocket. Those three guys hand the ball in their hands often and loved to take the big shots (especially in the case of Brown and Wallace).
At 6’11”, Rabb is a beast on the boards, can score at ease on the interior and has good mobility for his size. He’s a solid defender (blocking shots on the interior), can play help side defense effectively and can switch in pick-and-roll situations.
The Oakland, CA native could have easily departed from Cal after his freshman season to be an NBA lottery pick. Instead, he opted to remain in school to develop his skills and gain more maturity.
“I just wanted to improve,” Rabb said. “I didn’t just want to be in the NBA. I wanted to make sure I was ready when I got there.”
Rabb even referenced Kris Dunn, who bypassed the NBA Draft in a similar fashion and then was picked 5th overall after a monster final college season.
And while Rabb won’t have the ball in his hands at all times like Dunn and likely won’t be as good in 2016-17, he will still have a Dunn-like impact for the Bears.
Rabb will be one of the best players in the nation, and Cuonzo Martin should be thrilled that the Bears are going back to the NCAA Tournament.
Rick Barnes Says He Would Have Left Tennessee if UCLA Paid Buyout
Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes could have been the next head coach for UCLA, instead of Mick Cronin, if only the Bruins were willing to open up their wallets.
Barnes says that if UCLA would have promised to pay Barnes’ $5 million buyout, he would have left Tennessee to take the job at UCLA.
“I think I would’ve been the coach at UCLA,” Barnes said (h/t ESPN). “I’ve said that to people before. I really felt at that time that’s what would happen.”
Barnes was honest and open with his decision process during the news conference, saying that he struggled with making a final decision due to financial matters.
Barnes has since agreed to a new deal with Tennessee that will pay him $4 million per year before increasing to a $6 million annual sum by the end of the contract and provide more cash for his assistants.
“I’m supposed to be at Tennessee,” Barnes said. “And it’s really above and beyond the basketball program. I’m in love with this community. I’m in love with this state. I just think we got a lot of great things going on in this town.”
“A lot of praying went into it, I can tell you that,” Barnes said. “There was a lot going on. When you get down to a situation like that, it has to make sense from a financial standpoint. Bottom line is we couldn’t work it out with the buyout.”
Barnes also informed UCLA that he would not depart Knoxville without talking to athletic director Phillip Fulmer and others in the community.
I told them point blank, ‘I’m not going to walk out of here and not meet with my team,'” Barnes said. “‘I’m not going to walk out of here and not meet with people here that have been really good to me.’ … I said, ‘You just can’t say send a plane tomorrow and we’re leaving. I’m going to make sure this is done the right way.'”
“There was one time in my mind I truly felt that’s what would happen,” Barnes said about potentially taking the UCLA offer. “It got to that point where I felt like my prayers had been answered.”
The Madness is Underway
As we inch closer to selection Sunday, many conference tournaments are underway finding teams who will automatically make the NCAA Men’s basketball. Here are the teams that currently in the tournament:
Atlantic Sun: Liberty
Big South: Gardner–Webb
Horizon: Northern Kentucky
Missouri Valley: Bradley
MEC: Fairleigh Dickinson
Ohio Valley: Murray State
Summit League: North Dakota State
Summit League: Saint Marry’s
Out of the 32 conferences with automatic bids in the tournament, 12 of them have been clinched. All the until selection Sunday the remaining 20 conferences will have their tickets punched. Who will that be? Stay tuned!
Tennessee Basketball Ranked 4th In (Early) Preseason Top 25
A school built on football lure now has a thriving basketball team to get behind. In a early CBS basketball poll, the Volunteer squad is ranked 4th in the preseason. This should bring relief to a fan base whose struggled with a lackluster football team in recent years.
Under Coach Rick Barnes (SEC Coach of the year 2017) the Vols went 26-9 last year, won a share of the regular season SEC title and reached the final of the SEC tournament. Tennessee should return most of their pivotal pieces for the 2018-19 season.
Admiral Schofield (2017-2018 ALL SEC second teamer) who tested the NBA waters has returned for his senior year to play along side Grant Williams (SEC player of the year) and Kyle Alexander. If they can stay healthy along with the supporting cast, this team has a legitimate chance to reach the final four.
According to Andy Katz, “Tennessee is the team to beat in the SEC this year,” and did I mention Coach Barnes recruiting is nothing to take lightly. Recently committed 5 star combo guard, Josiah James added his name to the class of 2019 and pushed the Vols recruiting into the top 10 nationally.
Although it’s too early to tell how this season will play out its certain the hype is warranted and reaching heights it hasn’t seen since the Bruce Pearl era.
Could it be!? Tennessee – a basketball school?
Follow the journey when the Volunteers tip off against Louisiana Lafayette on November 9th.
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