The Cal Basketball team has been taking hit after hit this offseason, as they continue to lose key parts of the 2017-2018 season. Yet there has been no bigger loss than the one of head coach Cuonzo Martin. Martin has signed with Missouri, and just like that, the promise of his era has disappeared.
Martin came onto the Berkeley scene in 2014 after being fired from the head coaching position at Tennessee. Despite going 18-15 and finishing eighth in the Pac-12 in his first year, Martin’s most memorable contribution to Cal came in the following offseason, when he signed two five-star recruits by the names of Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb. Yet the highly capable lineup never materialized (mostly due to injuries) and the Bears lost most of their talent for the following year. Despite the losses, some talented newcomers paved the way for a promising year, but a late-season collapse eliminated any hope of an NCAA tournament berth.
Through all the ups and downs was Martin, the glue holding the program together. And despite the disappointments of the previous year, fans always had confidence that Martin would be able to reload the team for the upcoming season.
First and foremost, he was a recruiter. From five-star athletes like Ivan Rabb to international prospects such as Kingsley Okoroh, Martin was always able to fill his team with talent. Now with him gone, the future of Cal basketball is blurry.
Just a few days into the job at Missouri, Martin was able to sign small forward Michael Porter Jr. Porter, the number one ranked player in the class of 2017, turned heads when he signed with the Tigers, who had just eight wins last year. Porter had initially signed with Washington, but when his father was hired by Martin, he recommitted to Missouri. One wonders if Martin would have put Porter’s father on his staff at Cal, and if there was a chance of Michael Porter Jr. becoming a Bear.
What a day! Thank you to all the fans for your support today at #Mizzou Arena. This is a special place. And it'll only get better! #MIZ pic.twitter.com/VwhXiCKNAt
— Cuonzo Martin (@CuonzoMartin) March 21, 2017
A highly ranked recruit would have changed the Bears’ outlook for the upcoming season. Instead, Cal lost its top four scorers, as well Jemarl Baker, the most talented recruit headed to Berkeley. It will be a tough 2017-2018 campaign for the Bears, who are expected to finish near the bottom of the Pac-12.
The number one recruit heading to Cal. A returning star in Charlie Moore. A coach who knows how to get the job done. Had Cuonzo Martin stayed in Berkeley, things may have looked different in the Pac-12. But Martin is no longer a Bear, and the promise of his skills has departed, leaving fans wondering what could have been.