California's scholarship offer to 2016 point guard Devearl Ramsey was an announcement: This Bears staff is ready to compete.
It isn't just that Ramsey is one of the top point guards in the class, or that he's one of the elite point guards on the West Coast, though those facts do play into it. It's the fact that the entire staff has gotten in on Ramsey, in one way or another.
"I think at the elite levels -- at the high-major level -- it's pretty common," said Ty Nichols, Ramsey's coach at Chatsworth (Calif.) Sierra Canyon. "You can't make mistakes at their level, and I think, by coming in and offering Devearl, they've basically sent a message to the rest of the league that they're for real, and they're going to go after the elite point guards on the West Coast."
Ramsey's recruitment has its roots in each of the offices of the new Cal coaches, including assistants Tracy Webster and Yanni Hufnagel
"I have known Yanni for quite some time, and Yanni's been to the gym, he knows all these kids very well," said Nichols. "The other assistant coach, Webster, took the lead on this one, early, and then coach [Cuonzo] Martin, he's the one who called me finally, and then they finally offered Devearl. They did it as an entire staff."
After watching Ramsey at the Sacramento EYBL several weeks ago, and then hiring Hufnagel, the stage was set for an offer. Martin called Nichols, who told Ramsey to give the Cal coaches a call, and it was then that the skipper himself offered the 5-foot-11, 170-pounder.
"My reaction was, I was excited," Ramsey said. "I appreciate it, and I always try to be humble, getting offers at my age. I'm young, but I was really excited. I know that the new coaching staff is great, and I really like their playing style, and the school is really good, education-wise. They have a lot of opportunities there."
Ramsey had been a target of the previous staff, and having now been recruited by both, he has a unique perspective from which to compare the two groups.
"This one is more free, more to my playing style, more loose and stuff," Ramsey said.
After another Cal target -- Derryck Thornton, Jr. -- left Sierra Canyon for Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep following last season, Ramsey – who had been primarily a two-guard and a scorer – had to take up the true point spot, and he's taken to that task with great aplomb.
"It was tough at first. I had to get the sense of who's hot, who's not, who hasn't touched the ball and whatever and stuff like that," Ramsey said. "At first, it was tough for me, but it's a process. My coaches helped me a lot, and everyone was just telling me to keep my head up, because it was a process. It's coming along now."
Nichols – who got to see Ramsey's progress every day – knew that the four-star prospect had it in him, all along.
"I always knew that Devearl could do both [score and facilitiate]," Nichols said. "We just needed him to play off the ball last year. This year, other than him being able to do it the whole time, he just got more and more comfortable with it. Nobody's faster than he is. There's speed, and then there's Devearl's speed, and then explosiveness both offensively and defensively, that allows him to play the position really unlike anybody else out there in the country."
Ramsey's innate ability to distribute hasn't come along completely without aid. He has to have folks to get the ball to, after all, and he's got two big targets to rely upon, and offering Ramsey certainly opens the door to those two, as well.
"Devearl has always been type of kid who could do whatever he wants. If you need him to get you 30, he will. If you need him to facilitate, he will," Nichols said. "Our personnel this year, we've got the 6-8 Player of the Year, named Cody Riley, and a 6-7 kid named Ira Lee – two kids that he can feed – and another good shooter on the wing named Adam [Seiko], so he has pieces around him this year that allow him to be a complete player."
So far, Cal, USC and Washington have recognized that talent, and have extended offers, which means recruiting will now begin in earnest for Ramsey.
"I don't really know right now if I want to stay home or go back east. I like the weather in California, and I'm from here, but I don't know right now, because I'm only a sophomore," he said.
Ramsey intends to make some campus visits over the summer, which may include Cal. After Martin's introduction, it seems a fairly safe bet.
"I like the way he talks, and he's cool," Ramsey said of the new Bears head coach. "He doesn't talk like a coach; he talks to you like a friend. I like the way he talks to me, and I feel like what he's telling me about how they get out in transition, how they run and stuff, I like that. I feel like what they're saying makes a lot of sense, in my mind."
Offer to Ramsey Makes a Statement
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