Cal head coach Ben Braun announced Wednesday the signing of three premier prep basketball players to National Letters of Intent. The highly acclaimed trio will enroll at Cal next fall and start playing in the 2001-02 season.
In signing center Jamal Sampson, forward Julian Sensley and guard Erik Bond, the Bears have what is considered by most recruiting experts as a national Top 10 class.
“This is high-caliber group of basketball players, some of the very best in the country, and adding this class to our current foundation we have built will help us achieve the high goals we have set,” said Cal head coach Ben Braun. “The other thing that stands out is that they are not just talented, but they’ve all played on teams that have been extremely successful. They’re used to winning and that type of attitude is contagious. Truly, it’s an exciting time for Cal basketball.”
All three players have established superb reputations and had their choices of virtually any school in the country.
Sensley, a 6-9, 230-pound forward originally from Kailua, Hawaii, is in his second year at St. Thomas More School in Oakdale, Conn. The No. 6 recruit in the country according ESPN.com, Sensley is the highest rated recruit that Braun has signed at Cal. He committed to Cal more than a year ago and honored that commitment on Wednesday.
“Julian can play anywhere on the basketball court, whether it be guard, wing, small forward or power forward - he’s that versatile,” said Braun.
Nicknamed “The Jewel,” Sensley averaged 16 ppg and 8 rpg last year at St. Thomas More, leading the team to the New England Prep School Athletic Conference’s Class A championship.
Sampson, a 6-11, 240-pound center, attends Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana. A second cousin of former NBA star Ralph Sampson, he averaged 13.7 ppg and 10.6 rpg while blocking 147 shots last year.
“Jamal is a legitimate post player who has the agility and ability to run the court that you rarely find in a guy his size,” said Braun. “ We expect he’ll be a huge factor for us in his college career.”
Sampson chose Cal after considering such schools as St. Louis, Connecticut, UCLA and Kansas.
Bond is a 6-7, 195-pound wing from Seattle, who was widely considered to be the best prep player in the state of Washington.
He was named the Washington state 3A Player of the Year as a junior last season after leading Seattle Prep to the state championship. He averaged 20.8 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists. During the playoffs, he increased his scoring to 22.5 points a game and was named the state tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
Bond will give Cal a great outside threat as he shot 46 percent from three-point range last season. He also has some solid growth potential as his father, Jay Bond, is 6-10 and played at Washington from 1968-70.