Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd wing Naseem Gaskin catches Cal's eye

SAN PABLO, Calif. -- Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd wing Naseem Gaskin has gained size and bounce over the last eight months, and the Bears have taken notice.

SAN PABLO, Calif. -- Eight months ago, then-sophomore guard Naseem Gaskin of Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd flashed some intriguing tools in the MLK Classic at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, enough that the California coaching staff took notice.

"We talk almost every day [via text]," Gaskin said. "All the coaches -- coach [Tracy] Webster, coach Cuonzo [Martin], we have conversations every day, talks with my dad, and I went on an unofficial visit a month ago, so it's pretty good."

During that unofficial visit, Gaskin shot around with fellow O'Dowd Dragon Ivan Rabb, going into his second season with the Bears.

"We went to look around the school and into the weight room; it was pretty nice, and I liked it," Gaskin said.

During Cal's one-day elite camp on Sunday, both Gaskin and O'Dowd teammate Elijah Hardy spent time with their former teammate.

"It was cool," Gaskin said. "We were going through drills. He was trying to block me. It was pretty fun."

Since that January night in Berkeley, Gaskin has grown three inches -- from 6-foot-1 to 6-foot-4 -- and now has the rangy, long, bouncy and athletic frame of a bonafide wing.

"I see myself as a wing scorer, and I play defense, guarding," said Gaskin, who relished Sunday's 12-second defense drill run by the Cal coaching staff. "That was fun. That was fun. I was able to play defense, able to cross a couple of my friends. That was cool. That was the most fun part, for sure. They made me go as hard as I could, and I liked that from the coaching staff."

That, in part, is what is so vexing about Gaskin: He has all of the physical tools, the willingness to play defense, the frame and the instincts, but he has yet to put them all together for longer than a few minutes at a time.

On Sunday, he went from the Bears' elite skills camp to the NorCal Clash at Contra Costa College, and while he still looks like he's getting used to his new length -- he shot just 3-for-10 for eight points in 18 minutes against the class of 2017 in a 96-93 win -- his ability to get to the rim at will has only improved.

To be sure, Gaskin needs a lot of polish at this point. His superior athleticism alone won't be enough at the next level, and he needs to take time to set his feet before shooting ,but he shows the ability to create his own shot, and, at times, can create off the dribble, although, more often than not, he makes his first move, and doesn't quite know where to go, which leads to turnovers.

"They feel like I got a lot more athletic," Gaskin said of the Cal coaching staff. "I'm able to dunk now. They feel like I'm really good at attacking the basket, and my jump shot is getting a lot better."

Gaskin doesn't have an offer from the Bears yet, but feels like Cal will be up in his top group, at the end of the day, along with several others.

"I like St. John's a lot, Montana, Boise State -- those are who I talk to the most," Gaskin said. Those three schools have offered, along with New Mexico and San Francisco, along with five others.

Arizona StateUSC and Texas Tech are also looking at Gaskin.

"I feel like [Cal coaches] want to see me defend a little better and develop a mid-range jump shot," Gaskin said. "Ivan developed that in high school. I saw him working on that a lot."


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