Paul Sakuma, Associated Press
California forward Robert Thurman (34) dunks in front of Stanford center Stefan Nastic during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Berkeley, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012. California defeated Stanford 69-59.

BERKELEY, Calif. — Robert Thurman always figured he'd be big. His mom is a retired Marine staff sergeant who stands 6 feet tall, while his father is a 7-foot former bodybuilder who weighed 400 pounds in his prime.

Thurman's frame is largely what landed him a roster spot for Pac-12 contender California.

In a matter of weeks, the 6-foot-10 Thurman has moved from way down the bench to being right in the mix for the Golden Bears.

The former walk-on arrived at Cal three years ago fully expecting to wind up as a practice player, a fun side gig while getting a top-notch education.

He sat out his first year after transferring from Division III Norwich University in Vermont, then tried out last season and made the team.