At 7 p.m. on Monday, ardent Cal basketball fans were glued to their phones. Five-star recruit Ivan Rabb — the No. 6 recruit in the country, from Oakland, California — had announced that he was finally ready to make a decision about which college he would be attending: either UC Berkeley or Arizona. And after lots of hype and see-sawing, the senior power forward from Bishop O’Dowd High School finally made a choice.
With his commitment to the Bears, Rabb is one of the biggest recruits in recent Cal history, helping a program that had a disappointing 2014-15 season and saw the Bears miss out on both the NCAA tournament and the NIT tournament. And with a relatively small roster, the 6-foot-11 forward would help the depth issue — Cal currently has 7-foot-1 Kingsley Okoroh and 7-foot Kameron Rooks, who is coming back from an injury. Throughout his high school career, Rabb has shown what an athletic player he is, easily blocking shots and recovering offensive rebounds, and he can be a deadly weapon against a zone defense.
By coming to Cal, Rabb has almost instantly made the Bears a contender to make the NCAA tournament, especially if Tyrone Wallace — the first-team All-Pac-12 guard who has been mulling over declaring for the NBA draft — decides to stick around to play with Rabb.
A couple of weeks ago, Rabb seemed poised to make a decision after the state championship game, which took place at Haas Pavilion, but he ultimately decided against it, saying he wanted to make the championship title about the team, not just about him. And Cal fans got even more of a scare when a rumored package deal between Rabb and Caleb Swanigan, the No. 8 recruit in the country, was derailed after Swanigan surprisingly committed to Michigan State.
Cal head coach Cuonzo Martin has certainly done his job in the recruiting department, drawing high interest from some of the top talent across the country. Martin, who took Tennessee to the Sweet 16 two years ago, is definitely looking for a way to get back.
And with Rabb in his lineup, the Bears have the best shot they’ve really had in a while.