Star Freshman Jaylen Brown Says Cal Golden Bears Can Win It All


Along with a three-man recruiting class featuring five-star small forward Jaylen Brown and five-star power forward Ivan Rabb came a renewed sense of optimism and anticipation for the California Golden Bears basketball program.

ALSO ON HOOPSHABIT: The NBA’s 50 Greatest Players of All-Time

For the past two seasons, Cal has missed the NCAA Tournament after accruing an 18-15 record in 2014-15 and a 21-14 record in 2013-14. But reason for such optimism comes from Brown — the Golden Bears’ most highly touted incoming freshman and supremely confident Georgia native — setting the bar high with some lofty expectations for his inaugural season in the Golden State.

Per, Brown believes Cal has the right pieces to become the last team standing and win the national championship.

"“I have very high expectations. I think we can win it all,” Brown said Thursday in his first interaction with Bay Area media. “We have a lot of work to do, but we have very good pieces.”"

For the most part, this isn’t a very far-fetched statement from the explosive scoring wing. Regardless of how many holes a team may have on its roster, simply adding two five-star All-American talents is going to provide a major facelift the following season.

More from NBA

It also provides a huge lift to a team’s immediate and season-long success when three of the top four leading scorers return, as is the case with Tyrone Wallace (17.1 PPG), Jordan Mathews (13.6 PPG) and Jabari Bird (10.5 PPG).

Plus, when you look at the college basketball landscape to begin each season, there’s typically a handfuls of teams considered to have the talent and potential to make a deep run during March Madness. On paper, Cal certainly looks to fit the bill prior to the regular season, but just as with just about every team in the country, there are question marks that could prove to be their downfall.

For the Golden Bears, the potential downfall could very likely be their bench production. If the game were only played with starting fives, there would be very few teams, if any, that could match up with a Wallace-Bird-Mathews-Brown-Rabb lineup (which would be a small-ball formula).

But the starters didn’t get much help from bench last season and ultimately, that lack of depth and contributions outside of Cal’s key pieces hurt them. Outside of Cal’s four double-digit scorers, there wasn’t anyone who contributed more than 4.5 points per game.

In total, the bench contributed a mere 16.9 points per game. For a team with Pac-12 and national championship aspirations, and a freshman already noting the potential to make them a reality, 16.9 bench points per game simply isn’t enough.

But regardless of the numbers and what may be to come for Cal, there are certainly plenty of reasons for Brown to feel so confident about his team’s chances to compete at the highest level. Cal will boast one of the nation’s best starting units with talent all over and plenty of veteran leadership. And of course, they have Jaylen Brown, the No. 4 freshman in college basketball.

Next: Golden State Warriors: Grading The Offseason

More from Hoops Habit