When California head coach Cuonzo Martin offered 2017 wing Charles O’Bannon, Jr., on May 28, it didn’t come as a surprise at all to the son of the former UCLA standout and Detroit Piston Charles O’Bannon, Sr.
“It wasn’t really a surprise, because I’ve been talking to Cal for almost a year now, so I was expecting it,” said the 6-foot-4, 190-pound four-star.
O’Bannon, Jr., says that the Bears are recruiting him harder than even his father’s alma mater, which offered back in April. He’s communicated with the Bears “a lot more, actually.”
As much as the Bruins have been a part of O’Bannon’s life growing up, Cal was always there. The Bears have “most definitely” been as much a presence as UCLA, O’Bannon, Jr., says, in part because of one of his AAU coaches, Monty Buckley.
“It’s up there, because California’s a lovely place, and one of my AAU coaches when I was younger, he played at Cal, and he always would tell me how it was a great school, how the basketball program’s really good, and academics are really good at Cal. I took that into consideration,” O’Bannon, Jr., says. “This was before anything [recruiting-wise]. He still talks about Cal, to this day, and ever since I was eight or nine years old.”
The Bears have been on O’Bannon, Jr., now, for about a year, he says, and he’s been very impressed with what Martin has done as far as moving the program forward.
“I think they’re going to do really well this year, with two, top-five players, of course. They’re going to be contenders,” O’Bannon, Jr., says. “Cuonzo Martin, me and him have a good relationship. I talked to him about three days ago.”
That conversation was right after the U16 Team USA tryouts, with O’Bannon, Jr., just missing the cut.
“I talked to him the day after I got home. We didn’t really talk too much about USA. We talked a little bit about it, but nothing in particular,” says O’Bannon. “He was telling me that he’s going to be at a lot of games this summer, and how he’s seen me play over the years, and how I compare to other players.”
Though he didn’t make the U16 team, O’Bannon still came home with quite a bit of learning under his belt, and of course, that new offer.
“It was a learning experience,” he says. “Coach [Don] Showalter, he taught us a lot in a very short amount of time, and he showed us things that we could bring home and progress later in life, as a player and as a person. He helped us all, individually, quite a bit.”