Cal Poly basketball signs a pair of incoming freshmen

Updated: April 14, 2017

In the Fall the Cal Poly men’s basketball team will have at least two freshmen on-campus. On Thursday Cal Poly announced that Iziah James (Chesapeake, VA) and Karlis Gāroza (Saldus, Latvia).

Gāroza, a 6’9″ forward, was a starter on the Latvian U-18 team that competed in the FIBA European Championships in December, where he averaged 10 points and 6 rebounds. 

His club team, BK Liepājas Lauvas, is the same club that Kristaps Porziņģis played for. 

Usually, I can look up and find video that is somewhat representative of what players have looked like within the last year. With Gāroza, the proved difficult. The only video that seemed readily available was from 2014. Here it is:

Karlis is number 15 in the red jerseys It’s hard to tell how tall he was then, but I think he throws it down once or twice. What I can take away from this is that he knows how to work the pick and roll and he is somewhat defensively aware at a young age. He contests shots, goes for rebounds, and seems active for a big guy.

Seeing him in-person and seeing him play in-person will be something Cal Poly fans will be waiting all Summer for.

Along with Gāroza, Cal Poly also signed a Virginia-based high school senior. 

Iziah James (Cape Henry Collegiate School) is a 6’0″ guard who did have a little video I could find. James seems to know how to find his teammates, play a little defense, and seems to have the good court sense a college guard needs in order to be successful. 

James is smaller, but reminds me a little of Maliik Love in terms of being a guard with a strong build coming in.

Here’s a recent James video:

And a longer, less recent one:

James isn’t huge, but figures to fit-in well with the small guard penetrating style Cal Poly played most of last year with. Victor Joseph will be a senior in 2017-18 and Donovan Fields will be a junior. If James can play the distributor he seems to be in high school, he could facilitate for Cal Poly’s other two small scoring guards while he gets his sea legs at the college level. 

Don’t forget

Cal Poly will also have Mark Crowe next season. Crowe, who redshirted in 2016-17 and will be a redshirt freshman, is in-between James and Gāroza in size. He is an athletic wing player who should compete for time at the three and maybe the four in a small lineup, much like Kuba Nizioł. 

Prior to signing the two incoming freshmen this week, six of the twelve players on Cal Poly’s roster for next season began at Cal Poly as freshmen. One of those is a walk-on. The other six are transfers. With the addition of these two, my unofficial scholarship count at the limit of 13. 

Players who were hurt all or part of last season who should be back at full strength include seniors Josh Martin and Taylor Sutlive.