Cal men’s basketball inks 7’3″ big man, addresses frontcourt depth

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Cal men’s basketball has further addressed the loss of power forward Marcus Lee and center Kingsley Okoroh with the signing of the towering 7’3” Connor Vanover, a three-star prospect out of Nevada’s Findlay Prep.

“I’m extremely excited to add Connor to our Cal family,” said head coach Wyking Jones in a press release. “He’s a wonderful young man that fits our culture on and off the court. From a basketball standpoint, he fills an immediate need with his size. His size and length are obvious, but what separates him from the rest is his high basketball IQ and his ability to shoot the ball.”

In 28 games with Findlay Prep as a senior, Vanover averaged 8.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game, according to MaxPreps.

Prior to joining Findlay Prep, Vanover played three seasons at Arkansas Baptist Prep in his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas.

The big man enjoyed a stellar career as an Eagle, recording more than 1,000 points, 700 rebounds and 300 blocks, while leading his squad to a record of 82-21 and twice being named to the “USA Today” All-Arkansas second team.

In 2015, Vanover played for Team USA at the FIBA Americas Under-16 Championships in Argentina, where he averaged 3.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in four games.

Vanover initially committed to Memphis last November, but after the firing of then-head coach Tubby Smith, he decommitted this past March.

Aside from his length, Vanover stands out as a prospect because of his ability to shoot and spread the floor.

Whether it be from midrange or beyond the 3-point line, Vanover isn’t afraid to let it fly — an attribute that has the potential to create matchups problems.

While Lee and Okoroh were both fantastic defenders during their time at Cal, neither player’s range extended far beyond the paint, creating a logjam down low. Should Vanover consistently hit his jumpers at the collegiate level, he has the potential to change the way in which teams defend Cal.

With slashers such as rising sophomores Justice Sueing and Juhwan Harris-Dyson, Vanover’s presence on the floor will likely take the opposing big man out of the paint and give his teammates more room to operate.

A glaring concern for Vanover is his size, as the big man weighs approximately 220 pounds — a frame that doesn’t fare well for the collegiate game.

For reference, the average 7-footer in the Pac-12 last season weighed in at 242 pounds, so perhaps a few trips to In-N-Out Burger and the weight room will be on Vanover’s itinerary come summertime.

Vanover joins an incoming class of freshmen that features Jacobi Gordon, Matt Bradley and Andre Kelly, making up a class that is rated 35th overall in the nation and seventh in the Pac-12, according to 247Sports.

The Bears will also welcome redshirt junior Paris Austin, who transfered to Cal from Boise State last summer and sat out last season because of NCAA transfer regulations.

Even with the additions of Vanover and Kelly, the Bears’ frontcourt depth remains thin, as the only returner above 6’8” is rising sophomore Grant Anticevich, who averaged only 7.6 minutes per game in 23 games.

Cal, as well as a plethora of other premier programs, is still waiting on rising freshman Jordan Brown to make his decision.

Brown, a five-star prospect and one of California’s top prospects, has yet to select a school despite numerous visits, but several experts project the Roseville native to select Cal.

Justice delos Santos is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @justdelossantos