With Allen Crabbe and Richard Solomon already making a huge positive impact, and Gary Franklin making a large negative one, the freshman of 2010-2011 has already made a huge impact on the Cal basketball program. Even Emerson Murray, the rawest member of the class, made a small impact on the team. Only one member hasn’t seen the court; Alex Rossi, who missed all of last year with an injury. Will Rossi recover to make an impact next year?
Coming out of high school, Rossi was hailed as one of the top 10 shooters in the class and a tenacious defender who could guard tough shooting guards and small forwards. Scouting reports said that he was great coming off screens for shots and when he got his feet set, he was deadly. That’s not to say his game was flawless; there were concerns over his ballhandling ability, his athleticism, rebounding, and post play. But with his ability to knock down the 3 and the mid range game, his acclaimed basketball IQ, and his defensive abilities, Rossi was expected to make an impact.
Rossi has already bulked up to 200 according to Calbears.com, from 180-190 as a senior in high school. That should at least help alleviate some of the concerns over his strength. As for his role, it’s clear; he’d play the role of the spot-up shooter, the one who sits in the corner and runs off his screens, waiting for his chance to strike. Cal lacked that option last year; Allen Crabbe was the only player who could really shoot the 3, and Crabbe is more efficient when creating for himself. Rossi slots into that role, which the Bears could not fit last year. His role in terms of spot in the rotation would be that of the seventh man who’s counted on to provide instant offense and spell Crabbe and Gutierrez from having to play 40 minutes. The only concern for his fit would be his defense; some who saw him in an All-Star game questioned it (but it is an All-Star game, where defense is about the 100th priority). If Rossi plays capable defense, then he should find no problems finding the court next year. The most comparable player I can think of is one of Washington’s shooters; C.J. Wilcox, who did little but shoot 3 pointers last year (157 3 attempts, 58 2). Wilcox is different in some ways, namely in athleticism, but Rossi could definitely fit a Wilcox role for the Bears next year.
Alex Rossi may be forgotten by many when considering the Bear hopes next year, but he won’t be forgotten by the coaching staff. He probably won’t find his way into the starting five, but it should be expected that he provides valuable depth at the wing spots. Go Bears!