This Wednesday, college basketball coaches around the country will eagerly gather around their fax machines. Wednesday, the 11th, signifies the beginning of the early signing period for college basketball and it's the time when schools can officially announce who they are bringing on board.
There figures to be no shortage of excitement in the California basketball office as Mike Montgomery and his staff have put together a fine faul. Featuring three players from within state boundaries who all reside in scout.com's National Top 100 and a fine shooter from Illinois, the class of Allen Crabbe, Gary Franklin, Alex Rossi and Richard Solomon is one that Cal fans should be excited about as well.
Certainly, the Bears will be losing a lot when guys like Patrick Christopher, Jerome Randle, Theo Robertson and Jamal Boykin and others walk out the door after this season. But, this core group of four -- which may still be added to during the season -- should eventually go a long way towards replacing the departing talent.
Allen Crabbe, SG/SF- When the 6-foot-5 wing from Los Angeles committed back in December of 2008, it went without much media attention. It's a safe bet, though, that he'll end up creating quite a bit of attention by the time he finishes up his career in Berkeley. Long and rangy, he's a dangerous perimeter sniper with easy range to the three point line. He can get to the rim, plays smart and is capable of shifting to another gear athletically when he needs to. There are still some rough edges that need to be rounded out, but he's a good sized wing scorer with loads of upside.
Gary Franklin, PG/SG- Originally committing to USC, Franklin was bound to be a thorn in the side of Cal for four years. But, Tim Floyd's exit allowed Franklin to step back and look at things again leading him to Berkeley. His detractors have called him an undersized gunner who is only average athletically and some of them have been pretty outspoken about it. What attracted Montgomery and his staff, though, is Franklin's knack for hitting big shots, leadership ability and the fact that he wins an awful lot more than he loses. He's much improved defensively and plays a game based on maturity and being smart rather than relying solely on athletic gifts.
Alex Rossi, SG- The only member of the class to come from outside the state of California, the 6-foot-3 Chicagoland star is arguably the best spot up shooter in the class of 2010. His release is crisp and quick, the mechanics on his shot tight. Like most incoming freshman he'll need to add strength and continue to diversify his game, but he is much better from mid-range and at creating his shot than he's been given credit for. Well coached with his high school team and in the summer, he'll be able to pick up what Mike Montgomery asks of him as a college player.
Richard Solomon, PF/C- Quite frankly, Solomon is the wildcard of the bunch. He's long, rangy, quick off his feet and can run like a much smaller player. When he's got it rolling, he's a 6-foot-9 shot blocking presence who can score with a good level of skill between the rim and the free throw line. Other times, he can let his emotion get the better of him and settle for jumpers outside of his comfort zone. Provided that he gets into the weight room and then buys into what he'll be taught on the floor, Solomon has all the tools to develop into a quality big man and a guy who could start for multiple years in the Pac-10.