Like many students entering their first year at Cal, Devin Askew and DeJuan Clayton arrived on campus this summer with the opportunity to be themselves.
Though the new Golden Bears are far removed from their first year as college student-athletes – Askew is a junior transfer who played one season at both Kentucky and Texas while Clayton is a graduate transfer entering a rare seventh year of college basketball – it's hard not to soak in the feeling of a new chapter. With an environment they can thrive in and a wealth of experiences under their belts, the transfers are expected to add depth at the guard position and provide an immediate impact to Cal in the fast-approaching 2022-23 campaign.
"I'm loving it at Cal; it's a place where I can lock in and be myself," said Askew, who hails from Sacramento and played prep basketball at Mater Dei in Santa Ana. "There are so many amazing and brilliant people achieving incredible things on this campus, and I feel that everyone gets treated equally here. It's been very cool to absorb."
The consensus No. 1 point guard in the high school class of 2021 prior to reclassifying to be a part of the 2020 class, Askew started 20 of 25 games for Kentucky as a true freshman in 2020-21 and saw playing time in a reserve role at Texas over 34 games in 2021-22. He totaled 118 assists and a 1.55 assist-to-turnover ratio across his first two collegiate seasons, saw Cal as an opportunity to be closer to his family and a place where he can grow his game.
"I look at all of the positives in my basketball journey," Askew said. "I've already been able to experience the game from so many different angles and that's really an advantage. I'm a sponge, and I think that mentality has helped me approach this upcoming season as a veteran. I know what to expect from college basketball and how different systems work. I'm trying to help our younger guys get through tough or new situations."
Clayton, 25, is familiar with the veteran role at this stage in his college career. The Bowie, Maryland native played four full seasons at Coppin State, where he graduated from with a degree in social science and became one of two players in school history to reach at least 1,500 points and 400 assists. Clayton transferred to Hartford as a graduate student but missed all but two games with a season-ending shoulder injury. Now fully healthy, Clayton – who looks to join the list of productive graduate transfers head coach Mark Fox has added at Cal since 2019, including Kareem South, Ryan Betley, Makale Foreman and Jordan Shepherd – is ready to offer whatever Cal needs in his final college season.
"The team and coaching staff welcomed me and treated me like a man ever since the recruiting process started," Clayton said. "I'm ready to be a leader of the team and contribute in multiple ways, whether it's scoring the ball, being a playmaker and being locked in defensively."
Both Askew and Clayton will add depth for Cal at the ball-handling positions alongside senior guards Joel Brown and Jarred Hyder, which Fox expects will enable the Bears to find more advantageous matchups than in past seasons.
"DeJuan and Devin have a true spirit for playing the game of basketball and they fit into our program," Fox said. "They've come in with the mentality that they're joining this program, and not that the team is joining them. It's been exciting to see how hard they've worked to improve heading into this season."
Clayton credits his well-rounded game to his early years at Coppin State under head coach Juan Dixon, who led Maryland to the 2002 national championship. After previously developing as a catch-and-shoot guard, Clayton frequently found himself with the ball at Coppin State and had to grow into a playmaker. Clayton finished his Coppin State career with his name etched throughout the school record book.
For Askew, the point guard position has allowed his athleticism and versatility to shine. The son of former professional soccer player Brian Askew, he sees parallels between he and his father's sport of choice that have opened his eyes to how he can maximize his play at the position.
"A lot of the game of basketball, particularly how you read the court or cut, can be directly tied to soccer," Askew said. "I've benefited from watching soccer of just having conversations with my dad about the game; it's incredible to see some of the passes and how the game unfolds."
With less than a month until Cal's season opener against UC Davis on Nov. 7 in Berkeley, Askew and Clayton have embraced the opportunities to carve out roles and friendships within their new program. The selfless mindset both Bears have carried matches the versatile and balanced image that Cal looks to carry into the new season.
"We feel like this is a team where you can look to Lars (Thiemann), Kuany (Kuany), Dev, Joel (Brown), and really anyone for leadership and production," Askew said. "The goal is to win and we're all embracing our roles as teammates and brothers on that journey."
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