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Thursday, September 15, 2011
Cal walk-on destroyed the SAT

By Diamond Leung

Raffi Chalian is a 5-foot-11 freshman walk-on who is getting his opportunity to play in the Pac-12 and provide depth at the guard position for Cal, but what truly stands out is his academic record.

Just check the test score.

According to Asbarez Armenian News, Chalian did not miss a single question on the SAT.
"Raffi has without question, the highest GPA and SAT scores of any high school athlete I have ever come in touch with over the many years we have been involved helping kids get recruited. Raffi had a 4.8 GPA at Sonora H.S. and a SAT score of 2350 out of 2400. Did not miss a single question, but had 50 points deducted off his essay," said Bob Gottlieb, Director of Branch West Basketball.

The Ivy League had significant interest in recruiting Chalian, but he had his heart set on either USC or Cal. He already had major academic scholarship offers from USC, whose well-regarded Assistant Coach Bob Cantu loved Chalian on film and invited both he and his parents to visit the campus and meet with Head Coach Kevin O'Neill. The meeting went extremely well, and USC offered him the opportunity to walk on but could not guarantee he would definitely make the team.

Cal, on the other hand, was concerned about its lack of depth at the point guards position, with only two scholarship guards in the program. The entire staff looked at his film package and were impressed enough to offer him a guaranteed spot on the team as a walk on. Chalian jumped at the opportunity to achieve his dream of playing NCAA D1 basketball at one of the top academic schools in the US.

College basketball and the SAT haven't always done well together -- not at Memphis or for any recruit that has fallen a few points short of eligibility -- so Chalian nearly acing the test serves as a reminder that high-achieving students are a part of the game as well.

Certainly some students at Cal can boast of a similar score to Chalian's, but how rare is his 2350 among college basketball players? As former Cornell forward Jon Jaques told me, "I'd say Ivy League players would be very impressed. Guessing only a handful of current players in the league scored that high."

Chalian might not receive as many minutes as some other players this season, but he can more than hold his own in a standardized test-measuring contest.