Ricky Kreklow is headed to Creighton, NBCSports.com has confirmed.
Kreklow is a 6-foot-6 guard that spent the last two seasons at Cal after playing for Missouri in 2010-11. Injuries limited him to just 34 games in those two seasons, but he did average 5.5 points in 23.7 minutes as a junior. Kreklow has one season of eligibility left and will be eligible immediately if he receives a graduate transfer waiver from the NCAA. If he can stay healthy in Omaha, he might be able to push for a starting spot on the perimeter.
Kreklow is the third transfer that the Bluejays have added this offseason. Mo Watson, a former top 100 recruit that played two seasons at Boston U., and Cole Huff, a big man from Nevada, also committed. Both of them will be eligible in 2015.
Here’s the interesting part: Kreklow reportedly chose to walk-on at Creighton instead of accept a scholarship to another school. Last year, Doug McDermott walked on in order to allow Grant Gibbs a scholarship as a sixth-year senior.
After transferring in from Missouri in 2011, California shooting guard Ricky Kreklow hasn’t enjoyed the best fortune when it comes to injuries. In two seasons of play at Cal Kreklow missed a total of 35 games, including 24 during the 2012-13 season due to a broken foot. As a result of the injuries Kreklow (4.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg in two seasons at Cal) wasn’t able to have the impact he hoped to upon his arrival in Berkeley.
With Justin Cobbs and Richard Solomon out of eligibility there was a chance for Kreklow to have a greater impact under new head coach Cuonzo Martin in 2014-15. However on Thursday it was announced that Kreklow will transfer, with the goal being to graduate this summer and as a result be eligible to play at his new school immediately.
While some would assume that the coaching change was the catalyst for Kreklow’s decision, he said that this wasn’t the case. And given the injuries, his father stated in an email to Jeff Faraudo of the Bay Area News Group that it’s been a tough two seasons as a result of those issues.
A 6-foot-6 wing, he also was asked to play inside at times because of the Bears’ shortage of post players.
“Been a tough couple of years for Rick with a broken foot, broken hand, broken nose, having to battle bigs down low,” Kreklow’s father Wayne said in an email.
Kreklow is the first member of the current roster to make the decision to transfer, with guards Jabari Bird, Tyrone Wallace and Jordan Mathews all on board at this time. Cal will also add two recruits in guard Ahmaad Rorie and center Kingsley Okoroh, with the latter being a needed interior body given the Golden Bears’ lack of depth in the front court.
Idrissa Diallo, who reopened his recruitment when Mike Montgomery announced his retirement, is still considering Cal as a possibility.
With Ricky Kreklow out after breaking his right hand California entered Sunday night’s game at Creighton shorthanded, and things would get even worse in their 68-54 loss to the Bluejays. Late in the first half freshman Jabari Bird, who moved back into the starting lineup in place of Kreklow, went down with a right ankle injury and did not return. Without those two perimeter options the game became a struggle for the Golden Bears offensively, as they shot 36.4% from the field and 5-for-24 from beyond the arc.
Now Creighton certainly deserves credit for this, as their work defensively in the half-court and on the boards made life difficult for Cal. Greg McDermott’s team not only posted its best points allowed per possession number since their win over Arizona State on Sunday night, allowing Cal to score just 0.87 points/possession, but they also completed many of those defensive possessions as they rebounded 76.3% of Cal’s missed shots.
Creighton’s defense helped them navigate a slow start offensively, and by the end of the game Doug McDermott tallied a double-double (20 points, 11 rebounds) and Austin Chatman (11 points) and Grant Gibbs (ten) reached double figures as well.
As for California the offensive struggles reveal the fact that for all the talent at Mike Montgomery’s disposal, this team is still a work in progress due to the youth of many of those pieces. And if injuries become a major issue the process becomes even more difficult. Guards Justin Cobbs and Tyrone Wallace combined to score 25 points, but they did so shooting 8-for-23 from the field.
It can also be argued that senior center Richard Solomon (six points on 2-for-3 shooting) didn’t get enough quality looks inside, and Cal needs offensive balance in order to be at their best. David Kravish can provide offense as well for the Golden Bears, and this tandem will be need to be productive consistently when Pac-12 play begins.
While Sunday’s result certainly represents a missed opportunity for Cal from a resume standpoint given their losses to Dayton, Syracuse and UCSB, with their “best” win coming against Arkansas, the bigger concern is this team’s health. Kreklow’s going to be out of the lineup for the foreseeable future, and that was known entering the game. But if they lose Bird as well, the growth of the other freshmen and Cal’s interior play become even more important.