BERKELEY, Calif. – California junior guard Allen Crabbe was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year on Monday, becoming the third Golden Bear player in the last four years to receive the honor as voted on by conference coaches.
Crabbe led the Pac-12 in scoring, averaging 18.6 points per game. He added six rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.1 steals per game, joining Jorge Gutierrez last season and Jerome Randle in 2010 as recent Cal standouts to be named the conference's top player during head coach Mike Montgomery's five-year tenure.
"I don't think anybody trusts that I can coach, so since we're finishing up towards the top, they must think I must have really good players," joked Montgomery, a four-time recipient of the Pac-10 Coach of the Year award during his time at Stanford.
"No, I'm real happy for Allen. He has now worked himself up to where he is the conference's leading scorer, but is also doing other things."
Crabbe was at his best during Cal's seven-game winning streak, scoring 31 points to upset then-No. 7 Arizona at the McKale Center and 14 in the second half against USC half to spark a furious comeback after being shoved by Montgomery in an incident that received national attention. Cal also swept nationally ranked Oregon and blasted UCLA in that stretch, with Crabbe averaging 15.8 points per game and tying forward David Kravish for the team-lead in rebounds.
"The better he is, the better we are," Montgomery said.
But Crabbe, who was also named to the All-Pac-12 first team, was quick to credit his teammates for their play and keeping his spirits up after poor performances against Creighton and Washington.
"Through my hardships, my teammates were always there to pick me up and just keep telling me to push," Crabbe said. "I got to thank them because I wouldn't have been able to do it alone. This is a five-man team, not just one player.
"With team success comes individual success. I just feel if I do my part and not focus on the other things outside of what me and my team are trying to accomplish, then will fall into place from there," he added.
"He deserved it. He earned it. He carried us in some games and he did a lot for us," redshirt junior guard Justin Cobbs said.
Cobbs received second-team All-Pac-12 recognition, averaging 15.1 points and 4.8 assists per game.
"I feel great that I did make it, but at the same time, you want to reach those higher goals and reach first team, so there is room for improvement," Cobbs said. "Just got to keep working."
Perhaps Cobbs could emerge as Cal's fourth Player of the Year in the last six years next season, especially if Crabbe were to declare for the NBA Draft. Montgomery isn't ready to concede that just yet.
"It is kind of amazing that in the five years we have had three of the MVPs. I don't know what we do next year, be a lot of pressure on Al coming back, but anyway," Montgomery quipped.
Dan Greenspan writes about the Pac-12 for Fox Sports Next. Follow him on Twitter @DanGreenspan.