While some students are just arriving in Berkeley, many athletes have been around for weeks to train for the upcoming season. Here are some impressive athletes to watch:
Demetris Robertson | Football
Cal has struggled to recruit the elite, highly ranked five-star athletes, but it has managed to take in solid recruits and develop them into great players.
Incoming freshman Demetris Robertson will be a very entertaining and interesting player. As 247Composite’s No. 1 wide receiver, Robertson will help Cal head coach Sonny Dykes and the rest of the coaching staff fill a hole in its offense after losing several key players from last year. At 5 feet and 11 inches, he isn’t very big, but he’s quick and he’s got good hands. Robertson’s talent combined with his youth should make him an amazing athlete to look out for in the years to come.
Abbey Weitzeil | Swimming
Incoming freshman Abbey Weitzeil is the type of recruit you can only dream of. Because she deferred her enrollment at UC Berkeley for a year, Weitzeil has been on the radar for quite some time. This summer, Weitzeil competed for Team USA in Rio where she placed 12th in the 50-meter freestyle, seventh in the 100-meter freestyle and played an important role in the gold medal-winning 400-meter freestyle and medley relays.
She’s a pure sprint specialist. Her freestyle is among the best — she’s the American record holder in the 50-yard freestyle and the second-best in the 100-yard freestyle. Her sprint freestyle will be an upgrade to four of the five relays, the maximum number of relays one can swim, at the NCAA Championship. She’s a threat in the 100-yard butterfly, 200-yard freestyle, 100-yard backstroke and 200-yard individual medley. With her talent and speed, Weitzeil is the type of recruit who can bring home a couple of national individual, relay and team titles.
Ivan Rabb | Basketball
Since Cal’s disappointing loss to the University of Hawaii in the first round of the NCAA tournament last year, the Bears have lost a good chunk of their offense. Last year’s Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Jaylen Brown left to join the Boston Celtics, Tyrone Wallace was drafted as the 60th pick by the Utah Jazz and Jordan Matthews transferred to Gonzaga University.
In the wake of these losses, UC Berkeley sophomore Ivan Rabb has emerged as the centerpiece of Cal men’s basketball’s offense. In 28.7 minutes of play per game last year, Rabb averaged 12.5 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. His 61.5 field goal shooting percentage was one of the most efficient on the team and in the conference. If Rabb replicates the performance again, he should be a lottery pick in next year’s NBA Draft at the very least. If Rabb, however, has become stronger in the offseason and builds on that performance this year, he could go as high as top five in the draft.
Marianne Li | Golf
With one year under her belt, Cal sophomore Marianne Li should come back ready to make another run for the NCAA Championship. Last season, Li was the Bears’ lone representative at the NCAA Championship as the team just missed out on a team berth by losing to Michigan at the NCAA Regional. At that same tournament, Li finished in a three-way tie for first, giving Li her first collegiate title.
She had an incredible year. Li’s consistency of play led her to a scoring average of 74.03, best in program history for a freshman and best on the squad last year. With several important members of the team graduating last year, Li must continue to rise as a model of consistency and excellence in order to make a run at the NCAA Championship.
Ryan Murphy | Swimming
Cal senior Ryan Murphy is a true representation of dominance. He’s coming off a summer in which he earned three golds, sweeping the Olympic backstroke events and leading off the 4×100-meter medley relay where he broke the world record. Murphy managed to set a new Olympic record in the 100-meter backstroke and blast past 2015 World Champion Mitch Larkin in the 200-meter backstroke.
At the last three NCAA Championships, Murphy was constantly resetting all sorts of records in the backstroke events. Last year, in the 100-yard backstroke and 200-meter backstroke, no one was within 1.58 seconds and 2.77 seconds of him, respectively, both of which are eternities in collegiate swimming. Murphy is also incredibly versatile. His third individual event is the 200-yard individual medley, but he can swim elite times in butterfly and freestyle, which is evident by his insane relay splits. Murphy has been named NCAA Swimmer of the Year the last two years and could earn his third en route to at least two more individual national titles.
Contact Chris Zheng at [email protected].