If Cal is going to flourish in Cuonzo Martin's debut season, the Bears may have to do so playing a form of small ball.
Sophomore Kameron Rooks, the son of former 12-year NBA journeyman Sean Rooks, may miss the entire 2014-15 season after sustaining a torn ACL in his left knee, Cal announced over the July 4 weekend. The 7-foot center played in 26 of Cal's first 28 games last season before suffering a season-ending foot injury and was being groomed as a potential heir apparent to graduated senior Richard Solomon.
"Kameron has worked hard this off season to return from a previous foot injury and it is very unfortunate to have a setback like this," Martin said in a school-released statement. "Kameron's surgery went well and now he can continue to work diligently through his rehabilitation program to gain strength back in his leg. It is difficult to predict when we can expect him back, but we know he will put in the effort and his coaches and teammates are here to support him every step of the way."
ACL tears typically sideline players a minimum of 6 to 9 months, so there's a good chance Rooks would opt to redshirt even if his rehab progresses quickly. As a result, the Bears will be thin in the frontcourt with only three players standing 6-foot-8 or taller.
The only remaining true center on the roster is 7-foot-1 incoming freshman Kingsley Okoro, a former Tennessee commit who opted to follow Martin to Cal this spring. A native of England, Okoro is an imposing shot blocker and rebounder but needs time to get stronger and develop a more polished offensive game.
Okoro is sure to see playing time right away, but the better option for Cal may be sliding senior standout David Kravish from forward to center and playing four guards around him to capitalize on the program's wealth of wing talent. The Bears are inexperienced at point guard and thin inside but they have three wings capable of putting up big numbers in Jabari Bird, Jordan Matthews and Tyrone Wallace.
Rooks was never going to put up huge numbers as a sophomore, but he could have protected the rim and enabled Kravish to rest more and play more minutes at his natural power forward spot. Instead Kravish may have to be a one-man army in the paint some nights and the Bears will be more reliant than ever on their wings.
For more Cal news, visit GoldenBearReport.com.
- - - - - - -