When California head basketball coach Cuonzo Martin asked, rhetorically, "Why not Cal?" after the commitment of future-No. 3 pick Jaylen Brown, he wasn't so much speaking to those who, at the time, wondered aloud why two top-10 prospects -- Brown and Ivan Rabb -- would sign with the Bears, who hadn't won an NCAA title since 1960. He was speaking to recruits like Taeshon Cherry, a four-star 2018 prospect who was officially offered on Thursday, he told BearTerritory.
There is a buzz around the Bears, said Cherry, fresh off of his first summer with the Oakland Soldiers.
The Bears currently have two four-star commits in the 2017 class, in Juhwan Harris-Dyson and Jemarl Baker, along with Alec Hickman, and just brought four-star point guard Charlie Moore onto campus to replace Tyrone Wallace. Beyond that, former five-star Marcus Lee will be eligible for the 2017-18 season.
"Everybody's making it seem like Cal's a top school, a top priority now, because Cuonzo is such a great coach, and coach Martin has made a lot of strides since being there," Cherry said. "Everybody is drawn towards him, because of what he's doing, what he's done with players in the past.".
The offer -- made after Martin called Cherry's father, first, to make sure it was alright -- came after two years of recruitment.
"It means a lot. Coach Cuonzo is a great coach," Cherry said. "He's always seeking good players -- the No. 3 pick in the draft, Jaylen Brown, and Ivan, a top-five pick -- so it means a lot to me that I could be one of those guys. It really meant a lot that he would ask my pops before he offered me."
Martin texts Cherry every day, and most of the time, doesn't even touch on basketball.
"He just texts me to have a great day, and that really means a lot, for him to do that," Cherry said. "He texted my mom on Mother's Day to say 'Happy Mother's Day,' and he texts my dad. He takes time out of his day to text us, and that really means a lot to me."
The San Diego (Calif.) St. Augustine forward -- the top small forward in the 2018 class in California -- is going to come up to the Bay Area for two weeks, starting next week, and is going to try to make it to Berkeley.
"I'm going to talk to coach Cuonzo about it," he said. "I'm working out with a bunch of different guys from out there. A bunch of my [AAU] team is from out there, so I want to work out with them."
Cherry is a versatile prospect athlete at 6-foot-8, 205 pounds, with all the makings of a stretch four. He has a clean jumper that at this point can go hot-and-cold, but he's got what Martin likes -- toughness.
"They like that I can shoot the ball, and that I can bring the ball up, at my height and my size," Cherry said. "They like that I can rebound, and that my motor is good, so that's what they've said they really like about me."
Cherry wants to narrow his list of offers -- which includes Virginia, UCLA, Arizona, Kansas and Texas A&M, among others -- by the beginning of the next AAU season, and by this time next year, he's hoping to be committed.
"Before my senior year, I'm going to make a decision, because I just want to focus on high school during my senior year," he said.