Cal Basketball Transfer Portal Update
Attempting to track the comings and goings for Cal MBB and WBB
If it’s April, that means it’s time to search twitter for transfer portal recruiting news as we try to piece together next year’s basketball rosters. Let’s start with MBB:
Welcome, Jalen and Fardaws!
Let’s start with a quick look at what Cal’s new arrivals will add:
Jalen Cone spent two years as a back-up point guard at Virginia Tech, then two years as the go-to offensive player for Northern Arizona. His obvious, transferrable standout skill is as a shooter - in four seasons he’s 85% from the line and 38% from 3 on a high volume from both spots. Unsurprisingly for a player listed at 5’11’’, it’s taken time for him to figure out how to score inside, but his 2 point % has risen each year and got up to 47% last year. That, combined with lots of drawn fouls, made him a very successful offensive player last year.
Defense is maybe more of a question mark, as Northern Arizona struggled badly on that end, but Cone was part of the rotation on a solid Virginia Tech defense for two years, so it’s tough to split out Cone’s defensive skills vs. team effects. Regardless, he’s the best offensive point guard Cal has had since Tyrone Wallace, which is plenty of reason to get excited.
Fardaws Aimaq took some time to develop, but by his junior year under Mark Madsen at Utah Valley he had blossomed into a shot blocking, foul drawing, stretch 5 menace. I don’t think the 44% he shot from three in his junior year is a fair expectation, but just the fact that opponents have to guard him that far away from the basket helps.
His one season at Texas Tech was marred by injury, but the hope is that a year to get healthy and a reunion with the coach who got the best out of him will allow Aimaq to flourish again. Presuming good health, his rim protection and rebounding are going to be all but guaranteed pluses. Aimaq’s one weakness is finishing touch in side - his career 48% on 2 point shots isn’t a problem, but is oddly low for a 6’11’’ player. If Aimaq can improve his finishing inside in his final year of college eligibility he could have a monster season.
Entered the transfer portal: PG Joel Brown, G Jarred Hyder, G/F Sam Alajiki, G/F Kuany Kuany, G/F Marsalis Roberson, F Obinna Anyanwu
Arrived from the transfer portal: PG Jalen Cone, C Fardaws Aimaq
Of the players who have entered their name in the transfer portal, only Sam Alajiki has already announced his next destination (Rice), and theoretically the other five player could decide to withdraw from the portal and remain at Cal. But for now it’s probably safe to assume that those players will leave, meaning that Cal currently has five scholarship players returning from last year (Askew, Bowser, Celestine, Newell, Okafor), two portal additions, and two incoming freshmen recruits, for nine total spots taken.
That leaves four scholarships open for Mark Madsen to fill, and we know of at least a few players he is currently chasing. Here’s a (likely non-comprehensive) list:
Potential MBB portal targets
RaeQuan Battle, Montana State
The best player on the Big Sky regular season runners-up and conference tournament champs, Battle might be a name you recognize after he spent two years as a back-up for Washington. In two seasons with Montana State he has grown into an excellent all-around guard, with solid shooting and slashing skills, and the list of teams interested reflects how much of an impact he can make with his final year of eligibility.
Ismael Massoud, Kansas State
A stretch 4 who was a role player on Kansas State’s elite 8 team, Massoud has an odd statistical profile (a higher 3 point% than 2 point% across his 4 year college career!) but the size and shooting ability to be an impact player under a coach who knows how to use a unique player. He has one year of eligibility left after time at Wake Forest and K State. It’s unclear how interested he is based on where he’s visiting, but he’s a name worth keeping an eye on.
Freddy Hicks, Tarleton State
An active, ball dominant wing that Mark Madsen watched play in the WAC, you’d have to think that Cal stands a solid chance here, as Arkansas is the only power school that made Hicks’ top 5. Hicks is an excellent rebounder for his size and draws a ton of fouls.
Last week, Avi had a quick round up of other portal targets Cal had contacted. Since then, Cal didn’t make Tylor Perry’s top 8, or Steven Ashworth’s top 5, so you can safely cross their names off the list of potential additions.
Entered the transfer portal: G Jayda Curry, G Amaya Bonner, F Evelien Lutje Schipholt, C Sela Heide
Arrived from the transfer portal: G Ioanna Krimili, USF
I don’t want to talk about it. It’s perhaps not a shock that Schipholt entered the transfer portal after graduating in four years, but Curry and Bonner entering the portal after 2 and 1 years respectively stings.
The addition of Ioanna Krimili, a USF shooting guard by way of Greece is a solid addition. She’s an excellent shooter and go-to-player for the Dons, who were a solid WCC team last year. The problem is that she only has one year of eligibility left, and Cal needs a whole lot more help than that.
Since WBB recruiting isn’t covered nearly as extensively as MBB, we don’t have any particular idea who else Cal might be pursuing. We’ll see if Cal can add more players via the portal, but right now it sure feels like more talent will be departing than arriving.