Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O’Dowd five-star prospect Ivan Rabb has been on three of his five official visits – with Kansas and UCLA remaining – but while he ranked his most recent official to California as “right up there with the other” two he’s made – to Kentucky and Arizona – it was the only official on which he’s played the roll of host.
“I definitely enjoyed my visit to Cal,” said Rabb, before his third-round playoff game on Wednesday night. “I’ve been there multiple times, so I’ve seen pretty much everything there is to see. It was really about me, hosting the other two guys, and seeing how they liked it.”
Those other two were five-star Caleb Swanigan and three-star small forward Davon Dillard, who pulled the trigger and committed the night of the Bears’ comeback win over Oregon State.
“I felt right at home,” Rabb said. “I’ve been there plenty of times, and it helped that they went out and they won that game. I have a really great relationship with the staff, and my mom does, too.”
The 18-0 run Cal went on to take the lead in the second half showed a lot to Rabb, who last visited Berkeley when No. 5 Arizona – which plays host to the Bears on Thursday – trampled Cal at Haas Pavilion.
“Obviously, we were really excited, because they were doing a lot of different things – they were scoring in transition, they were going inside, they were shooting three’s -- they showed the potential of what kind of team this can be, and I saw how much better they’ve gotten since last year, and since the beginning of the year, with the new coaching staff,” Rabb said.
Rabb said that the Bears didn’t do “anything too special,” but everything the staff and the program did do “was interesting to me. Nothing bored me about the trip, at all.”
“They made me feel right at home,” Rabb continued. “That’s the biggest thing. They didn’t try to force me to commit, or force me to do anything I didn’t want to do. They just tried to give us the best.”
Seeing a packed Haas Pavilion on Senior Night, with a loud, raucous crowd, tickled Rabb, as well.
“It made a big impact,” Rabb said. “Berkeley will stand up for a winning team, and I know that if I become a Bear, and we win some games, they’ll be there to support us, 110 percent. That’s what really stuck out to me.”
Rabb talks to the staff just about as often as they talk with their families, so there wasn’t much new that the staff could tell Rabb, save for the new additions to Haas.
“It was like talking to old friends, and old family, but they also told me what they’re doing to the gym this summer,” said Rabb, referring to the $10 million audio-visual renovations coming to the arena, including a center-hung scoreboard and improved acoustics to make the building even louder, plus, some other improvements that can’t be revealed just yet. “That was really eye-opening. They showed me the changes that they’re going to make this summer to the campus. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to tell anybody what other changes, but they’re going to enhance everything around the basketball program.”
Head coach Cuonzo Martin has been working feverishly behind the scenes to get the basketball facilities improved by next season – prospectively, Rabb’s first on campus -- and that speaks volumes to Rabb.
“It says that they’re really invested in the basketball program,” Rabb said. “They want a winner. They want to go get the big guys, and beat them."