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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

August 23rd, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball


California Golden Bears


Overall Rank: #79

Conference Rank: #7 Pac-10


2005-06: 20-11, 12-6, 3rd

2005-06 postseason: NCAA


Coach Ben Braun has a little retooling to do with the loss of the driving force behind California’s run to the NCAA Tournament.  However, there is some untapped and underappreciated talent up front with big men DeVon Hardin and Jordan Wilkes ready to take over the spotlight.


Who’s Out: Leon Powe topped off his career with the Golden Bears with 20.5 points and 10.1 rebounds per contest as a sophomore before heading to the NBA.  Rod Benson was generally the first big man off the bench and has run out of eligibility.  In the backcourt Richard Midgley and former walk-on turned scholarship player, Martin Smith, have run out of eligibility.  Midgley averaged 8.6 points and 2.5 assists and rebounds during his senior campaign.  Smith, who earned significant playing time as a junior missed much of his final season with a nagging injury.


Who’s In: Coach Braun has a solid, well balanced group of newcomers.  Depth is an issue at most positions and this class should put an end to those concerns.  At 5-9, point guard Jerome Randle lacks size, but that’s about all he lacks.  He is quick and smart, takes care of the ball and has plenty of range on his jump shot.  Shooting guard Patrick Christopher has range well beyond the three point line.  The only negative is that he can’t create and get to the basket.  Christopher lacks the bursts of speed, but some offseason training may fix that.  Ryan Anderson and Taylor Harrison both stand 6-9 and weigh in at 225 pounds.  At the moment, Anderson’s strengths are stepping outside and working on the perimeter.  He’s still a big body that can battle on the glass, but his low post offensive skills need some developing.  Harrison may be the least heralded recruit, but the San Clemente, California product may see the most minutes since he can help replace Powe’s numbers.  Harrison is a banger and works hard under the basket on both ends of the floor.


Who to Watch: Ayinde Ubaka, the only player to start all 31 games last year, returns to lead the way for Cal.  The underappreciated 6-4 point guard averaged 14.5 point and 3.8 assists as a junior during the 2005-2006 season.  Ubaka is quick, can score in a variety of ways and has developed into a solid floor leader.  There isn’t a lack of talent by his side either with Omar Wilkes and Theo Robertson on the wings.  Wilkes averaged 7.6 points per game his first season in Berkeley after transferring from Kansas.  With a little more range and consistency on his outside shot, Omar Wilkes could have a breakout season.  Robertson’s versatility allows him to play inside and outside and, after a promising freshman year, the expectations are getting higher for Robertson to make a big impact.    


Final Projection: Even though Powe won’t be patrolling the paint, the Cal frontcourt may once again be its strength.  Hardin was overshadowed by Powe’s presence and still managed 7.3 points and 6.6 rebounds.  The question is whether Powe made Hardin better with the opposing defenses keying in on Powe or if Hardin is ready to break out and have a huge season all on his own.  Jordan Wilkes, brother of shooting guard Omar, is a headsy big man who could find a way into a starting role.  The 6-11, 225 pound Los Angeles native gained a little strength and experience seeing action in 21 contests as a freshman.  He might not be quite ready to make a huge impact, but at the least, he will contribute some quality minutes. 


Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT


Projected Starting Five:

Ayinde Ubaka, Senior, Guard, 14.5 points per game

Omar Wilkes, Junior, Guard, 7.6 points per game

Theo Robertson, Sophomore, Forward, 6.0 points per game

Jordan Wilkes, Sophomore, Center, 2.1 points per game

DeVon Hardin, Junior, Center, 7.3 points per game

80 George Mason » Complete List » 78 Saint Mary's

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