California head coach Cuonzo Martin has been looking at K.J. Hymes for a year. In July of 2015, he saw a lanky, 6-foot-8 wing forward flash during the Elite 100 2018 all-star game at Pomona-Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif. This summer, Martin was on hand as Hymes and the Las Vegas Prospects -- featuring two other Cal targets in Oshae Brissett and Troy Brown -- tore through the AAU circuit.
Hymes has grown from 6-foot-8, 185 pounds to 6-foot-10, 200-plus, and with that growth now comes an offer from Martin and the Golden Bears, who extended that offer on Wednesday.
"Wyking (Jones), one of the assistants, told my dad that they were probably going to offer, last week," said Hymes. "Cuonzo said he wanted to be straight forward with me: 'You have an offer from Cal,' and that's how it went down."
Hymes's physical development over the last year was certainly a plus, but Hymes has also developed a more mature and nuanced game.
"[Martin] said he sees major improvement from me, playing," Hymes said. "He said that, if I continue to be able to do that, then I'll be a great player, one day."
Hymes's growth also puts him on a similar path to sophomore Ivan Rabb, at least physically, and it's a similarity that's not lost on Hymes.
"I see myself playing a stretch four," Hymes said. "They have a really good, young squad right now, and I feel like they're really good right now, and they're just going to continue to improve. I feel like I can fit into how they run their offense. I feel like it fits how I play, a lot, because they play up and down, and they just play good basketball.
"I've always liked Cal. They've been recruiting me since I was a freshman. I have a really good relationship with the coaching staff, with Cuonzo and Wyking. It just meant a lot that they finally put it out there. They always ask how my family's doing, and we talk how friends would."
Hymes is going to try to get up to Berkeley in the fall, as well as USC and UCLA, jaunts not too far away from their Phoenix, Ariz., home. None of those are set in stone, though the two-hour flight from Phoenix to Oakland is enticing for Hymes.
"With a lot of the schools that are recruiting me, I have a unique relationship with Cal," Hymes said. "I feel like I'm just really good friends with them, and that separates them, for me."