Cal Poly basketball could have a whole new look in the Fall

Updated: April 26, 2017

Joe Callero’s team could look REALLY different next season. By Owen Main

It’s the Spring, but it’s looking like Cal Poly basketball could look a whole lot different in the Fall. As many as five or six new faces could be on the roster in 2017-18. Cal Poly announced two weeks ago incoming freshmen Karlis Gāroza (6’9″ forward from Latvia) and Iziah James (6’0″ guard from Chesapeake, VA). Over the past few weeks, the Mustangs have received verbal commitments from three junior college players, including Eric Toles Jr. (6’4″ guard from Sierra College vis Consumnes Oaks High School in Elk Grove), Marcellus Garrick (6’4″ guard from Hancock College via Columbia, South Carolina), and DeAndre Stallings (6’7″ forward from Columbia College via Liberty Ranch High School in Galt). 

Stallings is a player who I profiled below who Cal Poly has not announced, though a newspaper article and twitter chatter indicated he had been offered and committed to the Mustangs for next season. All signs point to Stallings walking-on in the Fall. More information below on Stallings. 

There are now four scholarship players that are confirmed gone from the program. Zach Gordon and Ridge Shipley were seniors, Jaylen Shead left the team during last season, and Lucas Clark tweeted this week that Taylor Sutlive wouldn’t be back next season. 

Cal Poly now sits at their limit of 13 scholarships.

Here’s a quick break down (and video if I could find it) of each of the new faces confirmed by Cal Poly.

Karlis Gāroza

He’ll be a 6’9″ center as a freshman and, if things go well, could compete for significant playing time. It’s hard to find any video on Gāroza — at least recent video. If you want to watch him play like two years ago, here’s just about the only thing I could find. The game is from the Latvian U-18 team playing against Sweden. 

Being a young student in a new country might seem tough, but Associate Head Coach Pawel Mrozik and teammate Kuba Nizioł would be reasons that the transition isn’t as difficult. 

Iziah James 

James is a 6-foot guard who, while taller than both Donovan Fields and Victor Joseph, seems to be in the mold of a small guard who can create and be a playmaker. 

Nicknamed “Man Man,” James’ highlight tape shows that he likes to run the middle of the fast break, played tough defense in high school, and can hit shots off the dribble. 

Because of his size and overlapping position, it’s unclear where James fits in in 2017-18. He could be a guy who redshirts and gets stronger while laying in wait. Or he could be a big-time playmaker who plays a complimentary role with Fields, Joseph, and the two incoming JuCo shooting guards. It’s hard to tell a lot from one tape, except that there are some translatable ball-handling and court awareness skills that James will bring to SLO. 

Eric Toles Jr. 

Eric Toles comes to Cal Poly after averaging 17 points and four rebounds per game at Sierra College last year. He can shoot off the dribble and scored 27 or more points in a game five times last year. His size as a guard gives Joe Callero s0me flexibility to use a number of different ways. I couldn’t find much recent video aside from the all star game at the bottom of the post, but here are a few high school highlight films from Toles. 


Marcellus Garrick

Garrick seems like he might be the most exciting of the three Junior College players. With two local JuCo’s in the area, I always thought it was interesting that Cal Poly hadn’t inked players from either Hancock or Cuesta in recent memory. 

Garrick fits the bill in terms of size, shooting ability, and athleticism. He made an official visit to Cal Poly this week and didn’t waste any time verbally committing on Twitter today. 

His excitement to be at Cal Poly is something that locals will appreciate. “The 805 is like a second home to me,” the Columbia, South Carolina native said in his announcement. 

Garrick’s highlights aren’t as easily found on YouTube, but if you go to his Hudl page here, you can find some video. 

DeAndre Stallings

DeAndre Stallings has been something of a mystery, but things were cleared-up some when I was told that he’d likely be a walk-on next season. The Mustangs on Thursday announced the signing of the other two junior college players, but there has been no word on Stallings, which would be the case if he had agreed to walk-on. We’ll keep an eye on things moving forward. The link to the newspaper article below has a pretty sure tone to it in favor of Stallings going to Cal Poly.

Stallings is one of the more enticing players on paper. He scored 18 points and grabbed almost nine rebounds per game as a sophomore at Columbia College. He’s 6’7″ and seems to have an offensive skill set away from the basket. He shot almost eight threes per game last season, making 37.5 percent of them. How well those numbers translate to Division I basketball remains to be see, but with a big body and a somewhat polished junior college offensive game, it will be interesting. This video is of him in high school, but there are some more recent highlights in the longer video of the all star game above.

Here’s a good recent article about Stallings. It seems he impressed at a recent open gym and the Mustangs were quick to make an offer. 


The All NORCAL Games

First of all, sorry for subjecting you all to my deep dives, but found this gem from earlier this month.

At about 13:30 of this video, the game goes from being unwatchable to two Cal Poly guys going back to back from downtown as Toles and Garrick drain three-pointers. Stallings gets into the mix and the three all have their moments. If you have 80 minutes to kill (and don’t want to watch the grass grow) you can watch this game. Once you’ve scrubbed the timeline on it, the right arrow will help you get through it faster. Look for number six on both teams and Stallings is one of the tall guys in gold. 

Garrick actually hits a pair of threes in a row. If you keep watching and can stand the pace and style of play. I guess if nothing else you can get an idea about how they move, how big these guys are, and how they look on a basketball court against other players who are probably being recruited to play at the next level.

Odds and Ends

I was sad to see that Taylor Sutlive won’t be back next season. Taylor has always been kind, gracious, and nothing but positive in my interactions with him. He seems to carry himself with a little more grace and maturity than most athletes his age. He’s a player whose body didn’t hold its end of the bargain. Multiple injuries contributed to him not being on the court as much as anyone originally planned last season. I have no doubt that he’ll be successful in whatever he sets his mind to. 

Here’s a Sutlive highlight video:

Sutlive’s departure along with Gordon, Shipley, and Shead, seems to leave the Mustangs one scholarship short. 

Perhaps the release we’re expecting Thursday will have more details.

Six or SEVEN(?!) Different guys?

With the addition of five new players, Cal Poly could have seven players contributing in 2017-18 who didn’t see any time in the Big West last year. Mark Crowe is an athletic swing man who redshirted last season and Josh Martin was injured shortly after starting last season with a 22 rebound performance at Pepperdine. 

While we don’t know exactly what next year’s roster will look like, we have a general idea now. Cal Poly is infusing a lot of new players. The question of how good they really are and how well they gel together is one for the Fall.

Another development I saw this week was the commitment of a player from the Central Valley. Jared Rice is a 5’11” guard with decent handles who will apparently walk-on for Joe Callero’s squad. This is as much as I know about him. 

With the knowledge that one or two things could easily change, here’s the roster as we know it now:

Aleks Abrams

Trevor John

Donovan Fields

Mark Crowe

Josh Martin

Victor Joseph

Luke Meikle

Josh Mishler

Hank Hollingsworth

Kuba Nizioł

Karlis Gāroza

Iziah James

Eric Toles

Marcellus Garrick

DeAndre Stallings 

Jared Rice