<
>

Caldwell to Cal

Talia Caldwell rarely does anything without some serious thought. The 6-foot-4 post considered many colleges for more than just her basketball career, for example. Caldwell finally chose one of them - Cal - this past weekend.

The Los Angeles, Calif., native chose coach Joanne Boyle's program over Arizona State, Baylor, Columbia, George Washington, Harvard, Illinois, Notre Dame, USC and Vanderbilt.

The commitment gives the Bears of Berkeley four verbals from ESPN HoopGurlz Hundred prospects in the 2009 class. Ranked No. 58, Caldwell joins Tierra Rogers (No. 14), DeNesha Stallworth (No. 27) and Brenna Heater (No. 38) in what is shaping up to be a monster signing class for Cal.

Caldwell is a talkative and energetic person but when it comes to schools she's all business, literally. She had a hard time turning away Harvard especially given their graduate business reputation but the school doesn't offer an undergraduate business program.

On an unofficial visit to Cal, Caldwell was captivated with the seriousness of the academic culture.

"The way they teach their classes, it reminded me of a higher version of my high school (Marlborough)," Caldwell said. "These are professors that really invest in their students, people who really care about the school and the cause."

Caldwell met with several department heads throughout the business school and was further hooked by the involvement of the student-athlete academic advisors. The advisors not only schedule classes around practice, but are fully engaged in the progress toward the players' degrees.

When it comes to the hardwood Caldwell becomes the third interior player the Bears have snared in the class. Heater and Stallworth are both versatile forwards and Caldwell is strong enough to play the post position yet agile enough to play the forward position. The trio complements each other in that pairing any two of them on the court results in a solid group. In terms of chemistry though Caldwell may be a little further along with Stallworth as the two spent the entire summer together playing for the same club team, FBC.

"Our high-low game got really good together." Caldwell said of playing with Stallworth.

On the court Caldwell grew physically and mentally. She's spent more time in the weight room and feels she has become a more physical player. She also has emerged as a floor leader as FBC's point guard, Chloe Wells, was just 15 years old. Caldwell drew on the positive and encouraging nature of the older players she played with in years past remembering how important it was to her.

"More than anything, it's the intangibles," Caldwell said of her growth as a player.

Caldwell down played the importance of Stallworth and the other ranked recruits committing prior to her but did point to Boyle as a major reason she did chose Cal.

"Seeing what coach Boyle can do in three years and some of those kids weren't even her recruits is just amazing." Caldwell said.

Caldwell did her homework, citing the injuries of Alexis Gray-Lawson and Devanei Hampton, the team's top two players, over the past two seasons. The team still made the NCAA tournament last season before losing to George Washington by two in the second round.

Discuss this on our Message Board

Chris Hansen covers girls' high school basketball nationally for ESPN.com and leads the panel that ranks and evaluates players for the network. He is a graduate of the University of Washington with a Communications degree. He can be reached at chris.hansen@espn3.com.