Almost two decades after legendary point guard Jason Kidd made his college debut at Cal, the Oakland, Calif. native revealed how close he came to jilting his hometown school in favor of one of the national powers that recruited him.
In a video looking back at his college days for his official website, Kidd admitted his friends, family members and high school coach expected him to select either Kentucky or Kansas. The chance to play on a national stage appealed to Kidd, but he built a strong bond with the Cal players during pickup games while he was in high school and he relished the chance to help transform the Bears into a contender.
"When I made the decision to tell my high school coach I was going to go to Cal, he kind of was taken back a bit because he thought Kansas or Kentucky was a better fit," said Kidd, a consensus top three recruit at the time. "I told him I felt that me staying home was something I want to do, and I think I can help this program. I think I can help us get to the tournament and maybe win a national championship."
Kidd didn't deliver a Final Four in either of his two seasons at Cal, but he accomplished plenty as a member of the Golden Bears.
As a freshman, Kidd averaged 13.0 points, 7.7 assists, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.8 steals, scoring the game-winning layup to beat LSU in the first round of the NCAA tournament and then orchestrating an upset of defending national champion Duke two days later. Then as a sophomore, Kidd upped his averages to 16.7 points, 9.1 assists, 6.9 rebounds and 3.1 steals, though the Bears were upset by Dick Bennett's Wisconsin Green Bay team in their opening round NCAA tournament game.
Kidd has no regrets about selecting Cal now, but at the time he admits that informing Rick Pitino and Roy Williams of his decision was "one of the hardest things I ever had to do." It's fortunate for Cal that Kidd had the courage to do that because his arrival led to one of the best two-year stretches in the history of the program and helped raised the money needed to renovate aging Harmon Gym.