Calling Minnesota

Cal coaches hit the phones as the 2015 class opens for contact, with a Minnesota big man near the top of the list.

The California basketball staff was busy on Saturday, contacting a bevy of 2015 prospects on the first day NCAA rules allow it, including Minnesota big man Alex Illikainen.

"I talked with coach [Gregg] Gottlieb and coach [Mike] Montgomery, too," said the 6-foot-9, 215-pounder. "Both called me. It was my first time talking with coach Montgomery."

Illikainen said that even though their conversation was brief, he could tell that Montgomery was a "great guy, a really great guy, and coach Gottlieb, too."

"They're good coaches, too," Illikainen said. "They're coaches I'd love to play for and form a relationship with."

The Bears were one of the first programs to contact Illikainen after the gates were opened on the 2015 class, and that's certainly not lost on him.

"There have been quite a few schools that got at me right away, but it was great to hear from [Cal]," Illikainen said. "I've talked to Gottlieb a couple times now, a lot about how I play, and they like how I'm a versatile guy. I have a lot of different strengths. I haven't seen them a ton, but they have a few good big guys. Whatever they need me for, I'll do it. I'll rebound, I have a little jump-hook shot inside, and I can bang in the low post with the big guys. They're all over me."

The power forward out of Grand Rapids (Minn.) already has offers from Creighton, Iowa State, hometown Minnesota, Nebraska, Northern Iowa and Oregon.

With a busy summer already well underway, Illikainen is getting ready to set himself to the task of seeing as many schools as he can, including Cal.

"I'm going to try and get out and see every place that I can, either this summer, next year or before I have to make a decision," Illikainen said. "I want to make sure I see every place."

As for the Bears, the location certainly doesn't hurt.

"I like California, I like the fact that it's a split city, kind of, with cities on both sides, across the Bay," Illikainen said. "I like that part of it, and it's just California. It's a very high-academic school, a very prestigious school, and I like that, too."

Illikainen currently holds a 3.5 GPA.

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