DeJuan Clayton rounds out Cal Men's Basketball 2022-23 Roster
Mark Fox's latest transfer portal addition addresses Cal's need for point guard depth
Note: I’m currently working on an article regarding Cal’s institutional failure to respond to abuse allegations against Teri McKeever, but that requires more time and care to make sure it’s done correctly.
When we last checked in on Cal MBB’s transfer recruiting, Devin Askew had just committed and we wondered if that meant that Cal was done adding to the roster. But it appears that there will indeed be more attrition from the roster, as Cal has also added transfer point guard DeJuan Clayton, previously at Coppin State and Hartford.
What can we confidently say about Clayton? Well, he’s entering his seventh year of NCAA basketball, which by itself is noteworthy. Clayton has a 7th year of eligibility both because of COVID, and because he missed all but two games last year due to a shoulder injury that is presumably healed.
What about on-court impact? Let’s look at the stats:
The good news? Clayton is indeed a pass-first point guard, with an assist rate that has bounced back and forth between solid and excellent. His turnover rate is a touch higher than you’d ideally like to see (which might be system related, see below) but it’s clear that Clayton has been the primary ball handler and creator for his entire career.
On the downside, a career 29% from three on a solid volume is solid proof that he’s unlikely to be a difference maker with his jumper, meaning his on-court value will have to come from his ability to create for others.
There’s another concerning aspect: the jump in levels from the MEAC/American East conferences. Both are typically among the weakest conferences in NCAA basketball. So while Clayton’s career 47% shooting from two appears solid, it’s worth noting that he’s 81-229 from inside the arc (35%) vs. top 100 weighted opposition.
It’s worth pointing out that Coppin State ran an extreme up-tempo offensive system for most of Clayton’s time in that program - Coppin State was 1st in adjusted tempo in Clayton’s final year, running a system that averaged 77 possessions/game (Cal that same year under Mark Fox: 65). That fast pace didn’t really help against non-conference opponents, but they helped make Coppin a solid MEAC team. How Clayton will respond within a much more deliberate system is for now an unknown.
When I plugged Clayton into Torvik’s RosterCast projection tool (which presumes an eligible Devin Askew), his addition to the Cal roster resulted in a slight bump to Cal’s offensive and defensive efficiency, which was enough to move Cal’s projection for next year from 133rd to 123rd. Which strikes me as about right - Clayton will improve Cal, and likely make the Bears more watchable, but isn’t likely to ultimately shift where Cal is likely to end up in the Pac-12.
Also worrisome: if Mark Fox is making the point to go out and get another point guard, that might be an early hint that Devin Askew’s eligibility for next season might be in question. That would perhaps explain why Mark Fox has added a one year player coming off a season ending injury who is making a massive leap in conference strength.
A review of other targets
I’ll just go ahead and update the list I put together previously:
Mike Saunders Jr. (committed to Utah)
Jason Roche (committed to Richmond)
Jaelin Llewellyn (committed to Michigan)
Femi Odukale (committed to Seton Hall)
Souley Boum (committed to Xavier)
Rudi Williams (committed to BYU)
Kyrell Luc (committed to St. Bonaventure)
Colby Rogers (committed to Wichita St.)
Don Carey (committed to Maryland)
Josiah Strong (committed to Colorado State)
Seikou Jawara (uncommitted, likely going to Pitt)
Courtney Ramey (May go pro, also being chased by a ton of elite programs)
Similar to prior seasons, Cal went into transfer season with obvious needs (point guard and shooting guard), offered every player available in the portal who could plausibly fill those needs, and ended up with one point guard who may not be eligible this year, and another point guard coming off a full season injury.
OK, that may not be a fair description. Askew’s recruiting pedigree and remaining years of eligibility mean that he has a higher ceiling that plenty of other options, and Clayton is presumably 100% healthy. As always, we’re happy when ANYBODY decides to come to Cal, and goodness knows Cal needs point guards.
Still, it’s hard to see this year’s transfer cycle as anything other than another reminder that Mark Fox struggles badly to recruit to Cal.