Nov. 11, 2009
BERKELEY - Three players ranked in Rivals' Top 150 and a long-distance shooter from Chicago highlight the 2010 California men's basketball recruiting class, Golden Bear head coach Mike Montgomery announced Wednesday. The class ranks No. 17 by Scout.com.
The four players who have signed National Letters of Intent to play for Cal next season are: 6-2 point guard Gary Franklin (Santa Ana, Calif., Mater Dei High School), 6-9 forward Richard Solomon (Los Angeles, Price High School), 6-5 guard Allen Crabbe (Los Angeles, Price High School) and 6-5 guard Alex Rossi (Winnetka, Ill., New Trier Township High School). Franklin (No. 72), Solomon (No. 101) and Crabbe (No. 102) all earned mention in the Rivals' Top 150, while Franklin was also rated the nation's No. 66 recruit by ESPN.
"We're really pleased with the recruiting class that we have," Montgomery said. "We knew this was going to be a big year. This group of four is really an outstanding group of kids, and we still have one scholarship available. It's a very good group and they're very good individually. Given where we were, what we're going to lose and what we're looking at down the road, this was an extremely important group for us, and I think we came up big. It's kind of exciting. Considering we lose Jerome (Randle), Patrick (Christopher), Theo (Robertson) and Jamal (Boykin), specifically those guys along with Nikola (Knezevic), this is a good group of replacements."
Franklin averaged 14.2 points, 4.5 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game at Mater Dei HS last year, helping the school to a 31-2 record and a perfect 10-0 league mark. He also made 63 three-pointers. Scout.com ranks Franklin as the 16th-best point guard among this year's recruits and ESPN has him 14th among point guards. Rivals.com lists Franklin at No. 18 among point guards.
"Gary Franklin was one of the most sought after players, certainly in the West, if not the country," Montgomery said. "He's got size at the point. He can really shoot the ball and come off pick and rolls. He's in a very successful program; they won the state championship. He's been a starter there for years. I think it gives us some national credibility. He's strong, has range and he's got a really quick release. I've watched him at times, and he would recognize that his team needed some scoring and then, all of the sudden, he makes four of five straight threes."
Crabbe helped Price win a CIF Southern Section Div. VI title and garner an overall record of 27-6 last season. In last year's regional final, Crabbe had 26 points and 13 rebounds. ESPN ranks Crabbe the No. 30 shooting guard nationally, and he earned a spot on the prestigious Best in the West first team.
"When Allen Crabbe first committed back on Christmas Day, it kind of set the tone," Montgomery said. "He's improved tremendously and he's proving to be a really good player that we're really excited about."
Solomon played against Crabbe in that regional final last year, playing for Bishop Montgomery High School, and finished the game with 18 points and 15 rebounds. He is listed at No. 20 among power forwards according to Rivals.com. Like Crabbe, Solomon earned a spot on the prestigious Best in the West first team. Solomon's older sister, Am'ra, played volleyball for the Bears from 2005-08.
"Richard Solomon is a late developer," Montgomery said. "Toward the end of his junior year, he was really starting to come into his own. He kept getting a lot of attention. He's gotten stronger and he gives us a quick, away-from-the-basket big guy that can rebound the ball. He has tremendous upside and we're seeing rapid improvements as we speak."
Crabbe and Solomon are already well acquainted with each other as Solomon recently transferred to Price HS from Bishop Montgomery. They also played on the same AAU squad. The duo will gain more experience of playing together before they arrive in Berkeley next year.
The only member of the class to hail from outside the state of California, Rossi will come to Berkeley from the Chicago area. He was an all-state honorable-mention selection last season. Rossi is the fifth Chicago-area player to come to Berkeley in recent years. Jerome Randle is another Chicago native currently on the Cal squad. Other recent Illinois natives from the Cal program include Sean Lampley (Chicago, 1998-01), Dennis Gates (Chicago, 1999-02) and Eric Vierneisel (Algonquin, 2005-08).
"Alex Rossi is one of the best shooters in the country out of Chicago and New Trier High School, where I had one of my favorite players, Matt Lottich, who played for me for four years," Montgomery said. "We're really excited about Alex because he can shoot the ball. Shooting the ball is a commodity that you can't teach. He's one of the quickest shooters and he understands the game, so that will really help us, given what we're losing."