One of the most exciting standouts at California's team basketball camp back in June was unquestionably Damari Milstead.
The now-6-foot, 165-pound Hayward (Calif.) Moreau Catholic point – just an incoming freshman, who was 5-foot-9 just a few months ago – showed hoops IQ far beyond his age, and boatloads of fundamentals, particularly on defense.
[BTTV: Breaking Down Milstead]
On Saturday, Milstead and his teammate Oscar Frayer made another trip to Berkeley, and once again, they brought their sneakers.
"We watched the incoming freshmen work out for a little bit, and then we played open gym with them," Milstead said. "It was really tough to go against them and play against them, to guard them, but as the games went on, I kind of got into the atmosphere. I felt more comfortable."
Milstead – who's father Jules is the longtime coach of the Oakland Soldiers AAU team – was more than familiar with one of the Bears' incoming freshmen: Jabari Bird.
"I know him pretty well," Milstead said. "My dad started coaching him when he was in ninth grade, so I've known him ever since his ninth grade year."
Like Bird, Milstead has already gotten recruiting interest before he even plays his first minute of varsity basketball. It's something he's talked with Bird about before, and did again on Saturday.
"He was like my host, so we talked a lot about how Cal was and what made him come to Cal," Milstead said. "He said that the main reason he came to Cal was the atmosphere."
Milstead caught the Cal coaching staff's eye during the summer, and spoke with them during his unofficial visit on Saturday about just what they liked about him.
"They told me that Cal was a great place to go because of the college life, the city ahs a life of its own, and they were also telling me things to make me better as a player, and things that I'm good at," Milstead said. "They said that they liked my vision on the court, they liked me scoring and they said they liked my IQ."
The 2017 prospect opened eyes this summer with his mature play, but this winter, he'll be leading a team that has just one senior and two juniors.
"It's exciting," Milstead said. "I think we're going to go through some growing pains, because we don't have an older guy, that sophomore who was a freshman taking the leader role."
Milstead and sophomore Armond Simmons will make up the Mariners' back court this upcoming season.
"I did [feel pressure], but coach [Frank] Knight said let the game come to me, and everything will be OK," Milstead said.
Other than Cal, there are several other schools that are coming at Milstead, including San Francisco, Arizona State, New Mexico State and Arizona, who have all jumped in relatively recently, Milstead said.
VISIT REPORT: 2017 Star Returns to Campus
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