BERKELEY -- Arguably the most important piece of the 2014-15 California basketball team is sophomore Jabari Bird. He started off last season with a stellar debut, but injured his ankle against Crieghton on Dec. 22. Though the Bears went 4-0 without him, when Bird returned, both he and Cal struggled. Bird got inconsistent minutes, spending 12 minutes or less on the floor in eight of the Bears’ final 19 games, including the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinal against Colorado.
This offseason, Bird participated in the Kevin Durant Skills Academy, which invited the top 15 collegiate wings to a camp weekend in Washington, D.C., and he came away from that camp a new man.
Bird also worked with new strength and conditioning coach Nicodemus Christopher to add 10 pounds of muscle, he told BearTerritory, and over the first two days of practice, Bird has shown off just what that extra strength and power can do. He’s leaping noticeably higher, taking the ball more confidently to the hole and has shown increased body control and acrobatic flair.
How will the new power change Bird’s game? We’ll find out on Fri., Nov. 14, when the Bears open their official schedule against Alcorn State in Berkeley, following Oct. 31 and Nov. 6 exhibitions in Berkeley against Cal State East Bay and Cal State San Marcos.