BERKELEY -- On Wednesday, California head coach Cuonzo Martin announced the signing of Tyson Jolly to the men's basketball program. Jolly, who originally signed to be a part of the 2015 class, had to delay his enrollment, and attended ELEV8 Prep in Florida this past year.
As Martin entered his press conference on Wednesday, he was asked how he was doing. He said, "One day at a time." That's how Jolly has had to take his life ever since suffering a pulmonary embolism a year and a half ago, and then, not being able to get in to Cal this past May. One day at a time, one step at a time, he's soldiered on. That's what's endeared him to Martin -- who, himself, survived cancer that ended his playing career.
"The thing about him, he was a guy that didn't want to give up," Martin says. "He actually tried to petition for another year in high school, because he basically missed his junior year of high school, and they didn't grant him that. He more or less played three years of high school ball, didn't play much as a freshman. It just speaks to his character, his make-up, his family, his willingness to continue to play and compete. He didn't make excuses for it. But, when he plays the game, he plays extremely hard. Sometimes, when guys come back from situations like that, they're very hesitant, but not him. He played at a high level. You saw him on the AAU circuit late, with his high school team, how he played, how he competed, he's one of those guys you have to respect for that."
"Those are the guys you fight for until the end," said Martin, who originally signed Jolly in May, and had to fend off other suitors like Creighton, Gonzaga and Oklahoma State in the six months Jolly's been in Florida. But, Martin said, Jolly wanted to stay firm in his commitment. "He had options -- two high-powered in-state schools where he grew up at, [he] decided to do something different. He wanted to be a part of our program. Just excited to have him on board, his passion, his energy as a basketball player, his love for the game, his willingness to get better, to conintue to improve, the way he interacts with his teammates, all those things, you need in your program. I think he's a good piece of our basketball program."
Jolly is a four-star prospect -- after ending his prep career proper as a three-star -- and is only going to get better, according to national basketball recruiting analyst Josh Gershon.
"Very happy to have him on board," Martin said. "Great addition to our program. Very talented young man. Tremendous character guy. Guy loves to compete, plays extremely hard, and I think he'll really upgrade us from a toughness, physical standpoint, athletically, as well."
Defensively, Jolly is tireless, relentless and shows great energy, and he's fast enough to push the ball in transition, though the Bears don't see him as a true point.
"I think he has the potential to be one of the best defenders, because he takes pride in that," Martin says. "Naturally, he likes to defend. A good athlete, strong, physical, tough guy at 6-4. In high school, he's probably 190 already, and he could be about 200 pounds when it's all said and done. He works extremely hard. I think, offensively, he can slash to the basket, attack off the dribble, he's really improving his three-point shot -- not that he couldn't shoot it, but I think just being a consistent three-point shooter -- that's the biggest thing he's probably working on right now. His ability to handle the ball as a point guard -- not that he's a point guard -- but to really improve his ball-handling like that, and to also be consistent with his three-point shooting [are what he's improved]."
When asked if there are any other signings on the horizon, Martins said, "We'll see."
Could Cal get another addition to this signing class in the next few days? Point guard Charlie Moore made his official visit two weeks ago, and will announce at his Morgan Park, Ill., high school on Thursday at 3:30 PM Eastern.
Of course, this is just the beginning of the early signing period, which means that the Bears may not be done.
What's the latest on Moore? Find out here.
Check out highlights of Moore from Vegas HERE.
It's also looking like Martin's first real commit (after a frantic finish to the 2014 class), Oscar Frayer, will be moved to the 2017 class, with commit Alec Hickman. We talk about that and more in the Bear Republic Podcast.
From Cal's release on Jolly's signing: