Junior center Talia Caldwell is a solid contributor on Cal's roster, putting up 8.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per outing. But her coaches and teammates say it's her approach and attitude toward the game and the team that set her apart from the rest, and that she has been essential to the team's second-place finish in the Pac-12.
Coach Lindsay Gottlieb says Caldwell is utterly unselfish.
"On a team that is looking to reach new heights in women's college basketball, it's essential to have players that put the team goals over personal accolades," Gottlieb said. "There is no one who embodies this ideal more completely than Talia. She wants the team to win, period, and is willing to do whatever is asked of her to help make that happen."
"Talia is a physical beast: she is deceptively quick, strong and tough with great hands, but also possess terrific lateral movement. Her knowledge of the gameplan and high basketball I.Q. compliments her physical skills."
"What really sets her apart is her selfless mentality. She mentors our younger post players, asks the coaching staff what we need from her, puts the greater good above personal need, and flat out works hard every moment of every practice or game. Some nights she'll put up a double-double, other nights she'll shut down an opponent's top post player, but every night she represents the best of Cal Basketball."
Teammate Reshanda Gray echoed Gottlieb, adding that Caldwell is the one to speak to younger players during big games about keeping their heads together. She asks extra questions of the coaches, and her hustle is an inspiration to the entire team.
"She has heart - so much heart," Gray said.
Gottlieb said Caldwell is a leader in the classroom, as well.
"Talia is also the first women's basketball player at Cal to be accepted into the Haas Undergraduate School of Business," Gottlieb said. "She is an all-around "unsung hero" of women's college basketball."
Caldwell's video bio.
Is there an unsung hero who deserves more recognition than what she gets? Hit me up on twitter.com/hoopism, or firstname.lastname@example.org.