Cal Poly men’s basketball recruit Trevor John has raised his profile since committing to walk on last fall.
Same goes for the Mustangs.
And with one more scholarship left to play with this recruiting period, Cal Poly’s recent trip to the NCAA Tournament means interest in the program is at an all-time high.
“The tournament success gives us a little more intrigue and credibility,” Cal Poly head coach Joe Callero said. “Maybe a higher level of recruits are considering us a little bit more now.”
After tying a Division I state championship game record with six 3-pointers in leading Danville Monte Vista High to the school’s first state title of any kind last month, John might have jumpstarted his recruitment.
Verbal commitments are nonbinding before signing a scholarship agreement, but, the 6-foot-3 guard isn’t listening to anyone else. Scholarship or not, he’s still coming to San Luis Obispo.
“I think people knew that I was pretty firm with my commitment to Cal Poly,” said John, who said he was offered scholarships by Air Force, Portland State and roster spots by Penn and UC Santa Barbara. “I had opportunities, but I really wanted to stay firm with my original decision. That’s how I’ve been raised. Once you make a decision, you see it through to the end.
“I felt at home with the coaches. They gave me what I wanted, it’s a great place to play basketball, and now I’m going to be playing at an NCAA Tournament school. I was really firmly fixated on going to Cal Poly.”
John said coaches have assured him a scholarship for his sophomore season should he walk on as a freshman.
NCAA rules prohibit Callero from commenting publicly on recruits before they sign letters of intent, but if John is willing to pay his own way the first year, it frees up Callero to take advantage of the NCAA Tournament buzz to try to land a high-profile recruit.
The Mustangs signed 6-foot-8 Oaks Christian big man Aleks Abrams in the fall and added 6-foot-1 Foothill College transfer Kyle Toth, a bounce-back player from Army, last week.
Santa Rosa Montgomery High’s Alec Raven, a 6-foot-6 forward who scored 1,439 points in his varsity career, including a program record 624 this past season, has also expressed his desire to walk on at Cal Poly.
Raven said he’s already been admitted to the university and is turning down the opportunity to stay home and play for the recently crowned state title-winning Santa Rosa Junior College.
“Since our season pretty recently ended, I’m just working out hard,” said Raven, who’s adding weight and quickness in the hopes of trying out with the Mustangs. “I’m going to try out and do whatever I can.
“Basketball is a priority in my life. I really do want to make the team.”
Cal Poly’s current scholarship opening was vacated when point guard Markel Leonard decided to transfer after one year.
Leonard’s departure leaves Ridge Shipley as the lone true point guard on the roster, but the Mustangs are also lacking a comparable replacement for Big West Conference Tournament MVP and leading scorer and rebounder Chris Eversley.
“Our needs are pretty diverse,” Callero said. “It’s just really trying to find the highest character kid with the highest impact.
“We’re not very limited. We don’t feel like Markel’s departure means we’ve got to pick up a point guard this week. Maliik Love can play point. Toth can play the one or two.”
And then there’s John, who appears to be an insurance policy against the health of sharpshooting guard Reese Morgan’s chronic knee injuries.
Named the Contra Coast/Tri-Valley Region Player of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle, John led Monte Vista to a 32-1 season by averaging 14.3 point and seven rebounds.
In that record-tying title-game appearance, John hit five 3s in the first quarter en route to scoring 23 points in a 66-55 victory over Corona Centennial.
The son of basketball coach Jay John, Trevor John has been around high major basketball his entire life.
Jay John has spent more than two thirds of his 24-year coaching career at the Division I level, including a six-year stint as the head coach at Oregon State. Jay John has spent the past six years as an assistant at Cal.
Trevor John has seen the Golden Bears make the Big Dance four times during that span, but he was excited as anyone else when Cal Poly beat the odds to win its first Big West Tournament title, made its NCAA Tournament debut and even picked up a runaway victory in the First Four.
“I was about as excited as the players were,” Trevor John said. “All the whooping and hollering they were doing, I was doing the exact same thing. I was extremely happy to see that all the hard work they put in that season paid off. They had some bumps and they faced a lot of adversity. That kind of resiliency is just awesome.
“I’m really excited about next year’s team, and I think we can make some noise again.”