Heading into their game Saturday against Georgia Tech, Cal is off to a 4-0 start thanks in part to the most prolific scoring duo in the Pac-12: juniors Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs. They are averaging 23.8 and 20.8 points, good for first and second in the conference, respectively, and have already put defenses on notice that their work will be cut out for them.
The Bears were picked to finish 3rd in the Pac-12 preseason media poll so it’s no surprise that they’re playing this well. Crabbe, an All Pac-12 First Team selection last year, made his presence known right away with his 33-point game against Pepperdine on November 13. He’s currently tied for 10th in the nation in scoring and if there’s anybody who’s playing better in the Pac-12, good luck finding them.
Cobbs’ production hasn’t been as explosive but just as steady as he’s scored 20 or more points in three of the team’s four games. In Cal’s narrow 73-70 win over Drake on Thursday, he led the team with 21 points and showed that slowing Crabbe down means contending with him being a threat to score.
Having seen both players in Los Angeles when they were in high school, it’s not a surprise that both are burning up the nets so quickly. Cobbs was an All-State guard at Bishop Montgomery High School in Torrance and he could score in bunches with ease. The last game I saw Cobbs play, he had 47 points in a 2009 playoff game and despite his team losing, he left no doubt that he was one of the better scoring guards in California.
As for Crabbe, he was the state’s Mr. Basketball and a Parade All-American a senior at Price High School. He had a season high of 38 points and when I saw him play, I knew he’d be a player that would make UCLA and USC regret not signing him. Coming out of a small school, he had to fight for his respect and that work ethic impressed me as much as his lethal jumper.
Now, Crabbe might be the best NBA prospect in the conference and if he keeps his scoring into conference play, don’t be surprised if you see him rise on NBA Draft boards.
In addition to Saturday, big tests await the duo in December as they have games against nationally-ranked Creighton and UNLV. While neither Crabbe nor Cobbs might be on the national radar yet, big performances against those teams could change that. Either way, Pac-12 fans better get to know them because come January, it’s going to be a challenge stopping them.
Besides being a sports fan and writer, Evan Barnes has covered high school sports in Los Angeles since 2006. For more thoughts on the Pac-12, college basketball or anything, follow him on Twitter @Evan_B