It is becoming a trend: The Pac-12 Player of the Year is once again a Cal Bear.
Allen Crabbe was honored as the league’s top player Monday, following Jerome Randle in 2010 and Jorge Gutierrez in 2012 as the third Cal player in four years to win the award.
The junior swingman led the conference in scoring all season, finishing with 18.6 points per game despite receiving more defensive attention than perhaps any other player in the conference. Crabbe, the Freshman of the Year in 2011 and an All-Pac-12 selection in 2012, stepped up when his team needed it most.
The Los Angeles native notched 31 points in the Bears’ Feb. 10 road upset of then-No. 7 Arizona, helping Cal to the first of seven straight wins. The following weekend, he led the squad’s second-half comeback over USC, tallying 23 points, 10 rebounds and six steals. Crabbe was named Pac-12 Player of the Week for those two weeks.
During that stretch, the Bears went from being stuck in the middle of the pack to challenging for a conference title. Cal (20-10, 12-6 in the Pac-12), which finished tied for second in league, is the No. 2 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas, where the Bears will face the winner of USC and Utah in the quarterfinals on Thursday at 6 p.m.
Previously a one dimensional scorer — he took more threes than twos last year — Crabbe has diversified his game this season. Still a lethal shooter from downtown at 35 percent, Crabbe was most effective on midrange curls, floaters in the lane and in transition.
It was not just scoring that won Crabbe the award. The 6-foot-6 guard pulled down six rebounds a game and was a solid defender. His length at top of the 1-2-2 zone Cal used often down the stretch caused problems for opposing point guards.
He did all this while playing heavy minutes — he played 36.1 minutes per game, the second-highest mark in the conference.
Crabbe was not alone on the All-Pac-12 team. Fellow Cal guard Justin Cobbs was named second-team All-Pac-12. Cobbs was the Bears’ second-leading scorer at 15.1 points per game. He averaged 4.8 assists and was the league’s top free throw shooter at 86.4 percent. Cobbs hit a game-winning jumper to beat Oregon in Eugene on Feb. 21, a shot that earned him Pac-12 Player of the Week honors, his second such award this season.
Oregon’s Dana Altman was named Coach of the Year, while UCLA Shabazz Muhammad and Arizona State’s Jahii Carson were the Co-Freshmen of the Year. The Defensive Player of the Year was Colorado’s Andre Roberson, who held Crabbe to eight points in the teams’ most recent meeting.