Cal Men's Basketball Roster Outlook
How much will Cal's roster change over the course of this off-season?
While the college basketball season isn’t quite over yet, we’re in late March and it’s pretty clear that Mark Fox will be back next year as Cal’s coach, so it’s about time that we turn our eyes to the future.
So to begin the long off-season, let’s start with a look at Cal’s roster situation and what the Cal’s coaches might be looking to do between now and the start of the 2022-23 season next fall.
It used to be that figuring out a team’s scholarship situation was pretty easy. But thanks to COVID and more frequent transfers, every team’s roster is much more confusing. In an effort to give you all a simplified picture of Cal’s roster (and to organize my own thoughts), here’s an updated scholarship chart:
A player’s class designation is based on his eligibility remaining, and not on his academic progress. For example, Jalen Celestine was in his 2nd year on campus and is academically a sophomore, but because his first season was the COVID freebie season, he used his first year of eligibility this year and will be a sophomore by eligibility next year.
This past season, teams were allowed to carry more scholarship players than the usual limit of 13. However, that limit goes back into effect next season and beyond.
ND Okafor and Grant Newell have both signed letters of intent and will be on Cal’s roster as freshmen to start next season.
After reviewing Cal’s roster and the NCAA’s COVID scholarship rules, I’m a bit perplexed that Cal signed two freshmen back in November, unless Mark Fox knew for sure that somebody was going to transfer out after the season ended. But now that a player HAS transferred (Best wishes to Dimitrios Klonaras, a grad transfer who still has two years of eligibility remaining) Cal won’t be over the scholarship limit next season.
But based on the current count, Cal can’t add any players to the roster unless somebody else transfers out. And losing a player to the portal could end up being quite damaging, as the most likely player to consider leaving is Andre Kelly, who has been with the program for four years but has an extra year of COVID eligibility left.
If nobody transfers, here’s the scholarship roster breakdown by position*:
Point Guards: Joel Brown, Jarred Hyder
Guards/Wings: Kuany Kuany, Jalen Celestine, Monty Bowser, Marsalis Roberson, Obinna Anyanwu, Sam Alajiki, Grant Newell
Centers/Posts: Andre Kelly, Lars Thiemann, D.J. Thorpe, ND Okafor
*Position as defined by me based on observed/likely on-court roles, and not necessarily based on position as listed on Cal’s website.
On the bright side, this is an intriguingly large roster - Cal would have 11 of their 13 scholarship players measuring at 6’6’’ or taller. That’s every single player on the roster who isn’t a point guard!
On the other hand, for the 2nd year in a row, point guard is a major area of concern. Jared Hyder is really more of a combo guard than a true point, and has dealt with constant injury issues since transferring from Fresno State . . . yet he’s the only back-up to Joel Brown at point. This past season, Cal handed lots of ball-handling responsibilities to Jordan Shepherd, but he has run out of eligibility.
If this is the roster Cal takes into next season, I’m trying to decide who would initiate the offense if one of Cal’s two point guards gets hurt and the other needs to take a breather. Jalen Celestine, I suppose?
If another player transfers out to open a roster spot - or if I’m misunderstanding something about COVID roster rules and Cal already has the flexibility to add a player - then it’s glaringly obvious that Cal needs to add a point guard and ball handler. Honestly, it’s kind of flabbergasting that Cal signed a small forward and a power forward and NOT a point guard as part of the 2022 class, knowing that Makale Foreman and Jordan Shepherd wouldn’t be on the roster in 2022-23.
If reporting is to be trusted, then Cal must be anticipating having flexibility to add at least one player. Per recruiting site on3.com, Cal has reached out to Princeton transfer point guard Jaelin Llewellyln. Meanwhile, twitter reports indicate Cal has also contacted Citadel transfer shooting guard Jason Roche and Cincinnati transfer point guard Mike Saunders Jr.
If I’m reading NCAA scholarship rules correctly, this must mean that one or more players from the current roster are anticipated to potentially leave. Maybe that’s not a guarantee, and perhaps Cal’s coaches are merely preparing a back-up plan in case there is an unexpected departure. Either way, Cal would have to beat out a long list of other options for any of the three players listed above.
As in past off-seasons, we’ll do our best to keep you all up-to-date on roster changes and transfer portal recruiting as the annual off-season round of musical chairs plays out. Surely Cal will finally recruit another point guard, right?!