RICHMOND -- Jabari Bird is headed to Cal. Now the Salesian High star will try to convince a couple of his basketball buddies to follow him to Berkeley.
The five-star wing player announced Wednesday he has given the Golden Bears an oral commitment and canceled his other three scheduled recruiting trips to Washington, Oregon and Colorado.
"I just feel like Cal is the right place for me. I woke up (Tuesday) and felt like it was time to decide," said Bird, who made an official recruiting visit to the campus last weekend. "It was comfortable, like I was at home."
Commitments cannot become official until the start of the early signing period on Nov. 14, but Salesian coach Bill Mellis expects no waffling. "He's not going to change his mind," Mellis said.
Bird's next order of business is to try selling Bay Area pals Aaron Gordon of Archbishop Mitty-San Jose and Marcus Lee of Deer Valley-Antioch on the idea of joining him at Berkeley next fall.
That's a long way from a done deal, but it would give Cal coach Mike Montgomery an elite recruiting class. Bird, Gordon and Lee all are rated among the country's top 20 prospects by Rivals.com.
"I'm definitely trying to get them now. Hopefully, they can be Cal Bears with me," said Bird, joined on the weekend campus trip by Gordon and Lee. "For the most part, both Marcus and Aaron liked the visit a lot. I'm just trying to build on that with them, so I can convince
Mellis doesn't doubt that Bird can influence others to play at Cal. A team manager for Cal coach Lou Campanelli during Jason Kidd's freshman year in Berkeley, Mellis said Bird's decision has the potential to create that level of "buzz" with local fans.
Bird is perhaps the most acclaimed recruit Montgomery has landed in five seasons at Berkeley. At 6-foot-6, Bird averaged 18.7 points last season, including 24 in the Pride's Division IV state title win over Price-Los Angeles.
"The potential is sky-high for him. He's got all the tools," Mellis said. "But he's definitely a team-first guy. He's not a me-me-me guy."
Bird wants to help the Bears "make some noise" with a deep run in the NCAA tournament. "I want to go far and make history because Cal hasn't been looked at as one of the top schools in the country for a long time, since Jason Kidd, really," he said. "Hopefully, with my commitment there, I can bring some talent and try to make some things happen."
Bird's commitment to Cal is not a huge surprise. He's been leaning toward his dad's alma mater for some time, but the decision brought a smile to the face of Carl Bird, who averaged 15.2 points for the Bears in 1975-76.
"I probably haven't seen my dad this happy in a long time," Jabari Bird said. "During my whole recruiting process, he always said, `Do what's best for you, but I hope you go to Cal.' "
Mellis said Bird will welcome coaching from Montgomery and his staff, and understands his game has much room for growth.
Still, Bird said the NBA has been a dream all his life.
"Coach Mellis got me to where I am today," Bird said. "I feel like coach Montgomery can help get me to the next level."