In the midst of constant scheduling changes and canceled practices, Cal men’s basketball continues to recruit for its 2021 freshman class. The most recent addition, 6’7” small forward Sam Alajiki, announced his commitment to the Bears on Friday morning via Twitter.
The Irish national, who is playing his senior year at St. Benedict’s Preparatory School in New Jersey, also had offers from Columbia, Howard, Montana State and New Mexico State.
“He’s a great guy,” Alajiki said of Cal head coach Mark Fox. “I like how realistic he is. He made a good decision offering me a scholarship. He was very direct and straightforward and transparent. That’s what I like. A lot of people beat around the bush, and he’s not that guy.”
He joins Bishop O’Dowd shooting guard Marsalis Roberson as the first two recruits of the 2021 class. Alajiki is known for his athleticism and his perimeter shooting ability. With his size, he could help Cal stretch the floor next year.
Despite the many challenges of recruiting during a pandemic, Fox and his staff have been constantly working to add players — both transfers and freshmen — who can help rebuild the team in Fox’s second year with the Bears.
“The pandemic has had a massive effect on recruiting because we’ve lost the ability in the spring to go out and visit underclassmen, we lost the entire July evaluation period and the chance to see kids live, we lost the September contact period and the ability to go into a kid’s home and sit down with them face to face,” Fox said.
The Bears recently missed out on 2021 four-star power forward DaRon Holmes, who had Cal in his top five but committed to Dayton in late October.
Nevertheless, adding players such as Roberson and Alajiki is an important step toward fielding a competitive 2021 class.
Trilok Reddy covers men’s basketball. Contact him at [email protected].