It’s safe to say the Cal Poly men’s basketball team could look quite different next year.
On Thursday, former Allan Hancock College standout Marcellus Garrick signed a National Letter of Intent to join the Mustangs for the 2017-18 season during a signing ceremony inside Joe White Memorial Gymnasium in Santa Maria.
The addition of Garrick, a 6-foot-4 wing who averaged 15.9 points per game as a sophomore and earned first-team all-Western State Conference accolades, is the third official newcomer to the Cal Poly roster this offseason.
“There are no words to describe how I feel,” Garrick said in a release from Allan Hancock. “Cal Poly has been my dream school ever since I moved to the Central Coast. The coaches there believe in me, and think I can be a great fit. It’s also an incredible school academically and will keep me close to Santa Maria, which has become my second home.”
Garrick, who shot 47.9 percent from the 3-point line during conference play, brings size and versatility to the Mustangs. He is the first Allan Hancock player to sign with Cal Poly since it moved to Division I in 1994.
“Marcellus can play all perimeter positions and compete offensively and defensively,” Cal Poly coach Joe Callero said. “His positive attitude and toughness will be a great compliment to our team. We’re fortunate he decided to stay on the Central Coast to continue his basketball career.”
Callero and his staff also announced on April 13 the signings of incoming freshmen Iziah James, a 6-foot point guard from Virginia, and Karlis Garoza, a 6-foot-9 forward from Latvia.
And with the loss of three graduating seniors in Ridge Shipley, Kyle Toth and Zach Gordon, as well as the departure of fourth-year junior guard Taylor Sutlive, Cal Poly’s roster will likely have a much different feel next season.
Callero said in a phone interview Tuesday that Sutlive, who had one year of eligibility remaining, decided not to return for a fifth season and he plans to graduate this spring. A 6-foot-3 shooting guard from San Antonio, Sutlive’s career was hindered by an ACL injury during his sophomore year and a broken hand this past winter.
Sutlive’s departure frees up another scholarship for Callero, who expects to return 10 players on scholarship from this year’s team. Add in the signings of James, Garoza and Garrick, and the Mustangs are believed to be at the NCAA maximum of 13 scholarships for next season.
Callero said he would be comfortable carrying at least 16 players on the roster, and it seems the coaching staff is doing its part to fill those open spots with potential contributors.
Junior college standout Eric Toles, a 6-foot-4 wing out of Sierra College, also signed a National Letter of Intent on Thursday.
Toles averaged 17.2 points and 4.3 rebounds during his sophomore campaign.
“Eric will be a great fit for our program,” Callero said. “His ball-handling ability and pace will allow him to play point guard while his size and shot-making ability will allow us to play him on the wing. Due to his high basketball IQ and length he can guard multiple positions.”
Two-sport prep standout Jared Rice also has reportedly accepted a preferred walk-on position at Cal Poly, with an opportunity to earn a scholarship as a sophomore.
A senior at Central Catholic High School in Fresno, Rice averaged 15.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.1 steals per game, and he also was named the Valley Oak League’s most valuable player during the football season.
“I feel like I can go there and earn a scholarship,” Rice told The Modesto Bee last week. “I want to challenge myself.”
While Callero said he couldn’t comment on specific recruits until they sign a letter of intent, he was optimistic about how the group is coming together.
The return of a healthy 6-foot-8 forward Josh Martin, coupled with the length of the incoming recruits, could give the Mustangs some exciting options moving forward.
“I like the direction we’re going in,” Callero said.