SAN FRANCISCO -- Cal coach Mike Montgomery knew he needed Tyrone Wallace to be part of his basketball program.
He just didn't know he'd need him this soon.
But with sophomore transfer Ricky Kreklow -- a projected starter at shooting guard -- sidelined early this season by foot surgery, Wallace has become a key piece to the Bears' puzzle.
A 6-foot-4 freshman from Bakersfield, Wallace was a serious recruiting target for the Bears a year ago.
"We knew we needed a guard that could play," Montgomery said Thursday at Pac-12 media day. "We thought he was arguably the best guard in the state."
Wallace has been, to use Montgomery's words, "as advertised."
He scored 12 points Wednesday night in the team's public intrasquad scrimmage and will be the first guard off the bench a week from Sunday when Cal opens its season with a home game against Cal State Bakersfield.
Perhaps ultimately a point guard, Wallace is playing all three perimeter positions right now, with an emphasis on shooting guard. Montgomery has been pleased with Wallace's ability to get to the basket, likes his long-armed defensive potential and is a bit surprised by his perimeter shooting.
"He's not really nervous about what he's doing," Montgomery said. "He pretty much is confident in what his abilities are, and he's not afraid to make a play."
Wallace, who averaged 22.2 points per game last season as a high school senior, does not lack for
"I know what I need to do out there on the court. I know where I need to be," he said. "I hope to help my team win, go as far as we can."
Kreklow, who had a pin put in his foot during surgery to repair a stress reaction on Oct. 8, is ahead of schedule in his rehab. Montgomery hopes he might be ready to play in games within three weeks.
The one-time Missouri recruit is running on the treadmill with full body weight and has no pain. He should start doing some full-speed drills next week, then full workouts a week after that.
"Cal may have the best pair of guards in the conference," he said.
"I don't think that he needs to avoid contact as much as he used to," Montgomery said. "He's not ever going to be 260. But I think he'll be 230 next year and be just fine."
"I think you're going to be delighted with Richard Solomon," Montgomery said. "It was a tough deal for him. It was a tough deal for our team.
"But Richard didn't blame anybody. He took responsibility, which I thought was the first step. I think Richard's really grown up. In a lot of ways, it might be the best thing that ever happened to him."