Freshman Jabari Bird has been the most coveted player the California Bears have signed since Justin Cobbs. However, coach Mike Montgomery has not seemed to play the sensation enough in recent months and has not only hindered his development for the team, but also for his potential for the NBA.
When Bird is in and playing, he is like most freshmen guards, thinking they are better shooters than advertised. Bird is a long, athletic wing who the Bears could use not only on defense, but for getting to the rim as well. It bodes the question, does Montgomery want to keep the potentially-draft-bound guard for the next year by not playing him?
The question proposed is an interesting one, but Bird’s play, on the other hand, has proven to NBA scouts that he is not ready for elite play. In his last five games going into the win over the Washington Huskies, he has averaged just over 15 minutes per game and scored just a total of 20 points on 8-of-31 shooting. It was a bit of the same against the Huskies having just two field-goal attempts and making just one.
With such a young stud player, Montgomery has handled him pretty well this season, but he does need to play more. He barely averages 20 minutes per game with just over eight points per game on the season. Bird has shown signs of greatness, but in recent Pac-12, play he’s been awful.
The only way to get this kid out of his slump is to play him more and give him quality minutes to learn from Cobbs and company. The Bears are in the hunt for an at-large bid in the tournament anyway, so you might as well see what the kid can do because he’s shown the flashes of athleticism and greatness scouts look for in a wing player.
The star of the day for the Cal Bears was Tyrone Wallace, who finished with 20 points on 6-of-14 shooting and 7-of-9 on free throws. Wallace helped the Bears beat the Huskies on the road 72-59.
John Lloyd is a Pac-12 Basketball Writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JohnHLloydIII.