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Ivan Rabb never doubted; he only deferred. Before he even bounced a ball in Cal’s Haas Pavilion, he felt prepared to play pro basketball. His fabulous freshman year—during which he averaged 12.5 points and 8.6 rebounds for an NCAA tournament team—had only bolstered that belief. But a few weeks removed from the season, he wavered on whether he wanted to play in the NBA.
He was told he’d be selected in the NBA draft lottery, and a new NCAA rule would have allowed him to participate in the combine and hear more concrete information, but he didn’t need it. By the April 25 deadline, Rabb had decided: The NBA wasn’t going anywhere, but he had more of his game to show off at Cal.
So instead of sweating in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, Rabb decided to enjoy what would almost certainly be his final summer at school. (If he returns to Cal as a junior, the shock could register on the Richter scale.) He took a “life-changing” course, the “Blackness Gone Wild: Black Re-Presentation in Reality Television,” which reminded him to think about how he carries himself. He spent time at home. (He’s from Oakland.) And when he was on campus, he worked out as often as three times a day.
He accomplished specific goals—increasing his vertical, adding muscle in his lower body and improving his free-throw technique—but his hope this season is to show off his confidence. He was Cal’s most efficient offensive player last season, but he was fifth on the team in field-goal attempts. This season, coach Cuonzo Martin says he wants Rabb to touch the ball every possession.
“I want to show how smooth my game is now,” Rabb says. “People will know when they watch me how confident I am on the court.”
He's done deferring.
X-Factor: Senior guard Grant Mullins
A graduate transfer, Mullins filled the only open scholarship Cal had to offer for the 2016–17 season. At Columbia, Mullins averaged 13.3 points and 3.3 assists a game. He will be a key scorer and distributor in a talented backcourt that includes freshman four-star recruit Charlie Moore and seniors Sam Singer, Stephen Domingo and Jabari Bird.
Coach’s Take: Cuonzo Martin
“We have good young guys. We have good experience. We have five seniors returning. When you watch Ivan Rabb and Jabari Bird do what they do, they have certainly improved, but you already knew the kind of players they are. But there are three guys who have done a great job so far. Grant Mullins has had a very smooth transition from Columbia. Charlie Moore has incredible composure and demeanor. And Stephen Domingo is a redshirt senior who has really improved shooting the ball.
“If you look out at the Pac-12, Oregon and Arizona look very dangerous. Utah and Washington have done a great job recently. You can’t sleep on any team, and I don’t think any of our guys will. They love to compete. They have shown that so far in practice, and I have big expectations for this group this season.”
Projected Top Seven Scorers
Projected Pac-12 Standings
Proj. Conf. Record
’15-16 Conf. Record
More scouting reports: 1. Duke | 2. Kansas | 3. Kentucky | 4. Oregon | 5. Villanova | 6. North Carolina | 7. Virginia | 8. Wisconsin | 9. Gonzaga | 10. Arizona | 11. Purdue | 12. Xavier | 13. Louisville | 14. Syracuse | 15. Indiana | 16. UCLA | 18. NC State | 19. West Virginia | 20. UConn