Cal's 1-Year Wonders: Jaylen Brown the Latest to Blossom After Brief Berkeley Career
Jaylen Brown, we hardly knew ye.
The fourth-year budding NBA star helps lead the Boston Celtics against the defending champion Toronto Raptors on Sunday after a three-day delay to the start of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Tipoff is 10 a.m. PST on ESPN.
Update: Brown had 17 points, five rebounds and four assists Sunday to help the Celtics to a 112-94 win over Toronto.
Brown, who has earned attention for his devoted activism against racial injustice, is among a select club of former Cal athletes: He spent just one season playing his sport for the Golden Bears.
Here are nine former Cal athletes, presented chronologically, who made their mark during a brief stay in Berkeley, then went on to big things:
CAL'S BEST ONE-YEAR WONDERS
— Wayne Hooper (1943-44): After serving as a Naval gunnery officer on a destroyer in the South Pacific during World War II, Hooper averaged 8.5 points per game and was named to the All-Pacific Coast Conference team in his lone season on the varsity basketball team. Hooper played baseball for three seasons at Cal. He later worked as a lawyer, representing athletes including Joe Kapp, Steve Bartkowski and Jim Plunkett, and helped lead fund-raising efforts to benefit the baseball program in the early 2000s.
— Proverb Jacobs (1957-58): An offensive and defensive tackle, Jacobs played just one season in Berkeley before being taken by the New York Giants in the second round of the 1958 NFL draft. He went on to play six professional seasons, including 1963 and ’64 with the Oakland Raiders of the American Football League. Later, he was a teacher, coach and mentor for 30 years at Laney College.
— Wes Howell (1982-83): When his basketball eligibility ended at Cal, Howell gave football a try and was a wide receiver on coach Joe Kapp’s first team. He caught 35 passes for 589 yards and five touchdowns, including a 32-yard TD reception in the fourth quarter of the Bears’ 25-20 win over Stanford in the 1982 Big Game known for “The Play.” Drafted in the fourth round by the New York Jets, Howell never played in the NFL but spent a season with the Oakland Invaders of the USFL.
— Jerod Haase (1992-93): A part-time starter in the backcourt alongside fellow freshman Jason Kidd, Haase helped the Bears to a 21-9 record. He averaged 7.2 points, including 13 in Cal’s upset of two-time defending national champion Duke in the second round of the NCAA tournament. After one season, Haase transferred to Kansas, where he started 99 games and averaged 12.5 points over three seasons. He currently is head coach at Stanford.
— Shareef Abdur-Rahim (1995-96): The best ready-made freshman scorer in Cal basketball history, Abdur-Rahim put up at least 30 points in each of his first three college games. He went on to average 21.1 points and 8.4 rebounds and became the first freshman named Pac-10 Player of the Year. Chosen No. 3 overall in the 1996 NBA draft, Abdur-Rahim averaged 18.7 points as a rookie then had five straight seasons of at least 20 points per game. He scored at an 18.1 clip through 12 NBA seasons, won an Olympic gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Games and now serves as president of the NBA’s G League.
— Byeong Hun An (2010-11): After earning honorable mention All-Pac-10 in his only season at Cal, the South Korea native turned pro and has won nearly $9 million on the PGA tour. He entered this week’s BMW Championships ranked No. 35 in the FedEx Cup standings.
— Khairi Fortt (2013-14): A transfer from Penn State, Fortt was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award, given to the nation’s top linebacker, after collecting 62 tackles in his one season with the Bears. He played four NFL seasons after being drafted in the fourth round in 2014 by the New Orleans Saints. He also appeared on the MTV show “Fear Factor.”
— Jaylen Brown (2015-16): Rated as one of the nation’s top high school prospects, Brown averaged 14.6 points and 5.4 rebounds as a freshman for the Bears, helping Cal to its most recent NCAA tournament appearance. He had six games of at least 20 points, including season-highs of 27 twice. In his fourth year with the Boston Celtics after being picked at No. 3 overall in the 2016 NBA draft, Brown delivered his finest season, averaging 20.3 points. He averaged 21.5 points in the Celtics’ first-round 4-0 sweep of the Philadelphia 76ers.
— Davis Webb (2016-17): A grad transfer from Texas Tech (where he’d been beaten out by freshman Patrick Mahomes), Webb passed for 4,295 yards and 37 touchdowns as the successor to Jared Goff. Both of his passing totals rank second on Cal’s all-time single-season list. He had 10 300-yard passing games. Webb was a third-round pick by the New York Giants in the 2017 NFL draft and currently plays for the Buffalo Bills. But he has yet to see action in an NFL regular-season game.
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo
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