Bears Breaking Out: Richard Solomon

Many are eager to see the kind of sophomore season Allen Crabbe has for Cal. But the second-year progress made by his former high school teammate may be just as important for Mike Montgomery’s Bears.

With center Markhuri Sanders-Frison leaving, Cal will need a big man to step up and the 6-foot-10
Solomon — a lanky, raw but very athletic player — could be that candidate after averaging 5.6
points and 4.4 boards off the bench in a productive freshman season.

What the Los Angeles, Calif. native doesn’t have is bulk. Solomon is still slender at 220 pounds, and needs to muscle up if he hopes to compete for longer minutes against some of the conference’s better front lines. His offensive post-up game is also a work in progress, to say the least.

At the same time, there’s no denying his potential and athleticism — anyone who saw his mini-dunk showcase in the regular season finale against Stanford would agree. Solomon displayed a knack for finishing around the basket when needed and has even flashed a soft touch on his jumper once in a while. On defense, he paced the team in blocks (27) despite being a reserve.

And, lest we forget, he has a coach in Montgomery who has mentored some pretty good big men over the years.

Solomon certainly won’t be an all-conference caliber performer this upcoming season; Jorge Gutierrez, Harper Kamp and Freshman of the Year Allen Crabbe will vie for those honors. But with a year to build on his first campaign — and an off-season that includes a USA U-19 squad try-out and a European tour — Solomon has the chance to be one of the Bears’ most improved players in 2011-2012.

Raising his scoring average closer to double figures would be a tremendous boost for a Cal team hoping to contend for a Pac-12 title.

Image Source: Anne Marie Schuler/Daily Cal