Jan. 15, 2013
By Doug Drabik
Junior Allen Crabbe had an eventful first three weeks of the 2012-13 basketball season. By the end of November, he had paced the Pac-12 and the nation in scoring, become one of the fastest in program history to reach the 1,000-point milestone and lead the Golden Bears to a perfect 6-0 record and a DirecTV Classic championship.
The Bears jumped out to their best start under head coach Mike Montgomery, and Crabbe has been a major catalyst to the season's early success. While the guard's stats jump out to college basketball fans around the country, his personality is tempered. Make no mistake, the even-keeled junior means business on the court and wants to win a championship.
"When people first meet me, they think I am a real shy kid, but once they get to know me, I am real energetic," Crabbe explained. "I like to go out and try new things and hang out with friends, go golfing and bowling and have fun. My friends and family mean everything to me.
"Every time I get on the basketball court, I understand how serious it is," Crabbe added. "I need to play hard each and every possession; they all matter equally to the outcome of the game. I want to play hard because I want my teammates to know they have somebody they can rely on in certain situations. If we need a clutch basket or if we need somebody to make that play, I am that guy that can help the team achieve its goals."
The junior has blossomed into a leadership role on the Bears' squad, following in the footsteps of last year's seniors Jorge Gutierrez and Harper Kamp. Both were all-conference players on the court and great ambassadors for the program outside of the gym.
"Harper and Jorge were exceptional leaders," Crabbe said. "We have a great senior class this season, as well. I have tried to learn by their actions. A lot of people put a lot of expectations on individuals for certain teams every year, and I am blessed and fortunate enough to be in that situation this year. I am willing to take on that role. People say it is a lot of pressure. I don't look at it as pressure. They say that good players who want to be great have to do great things. I want to be great so I am stepping up to the challenge."
He has certainly stepped up with an average of better than 20 points per game through the month of November. More importantly, he had the Bears off to their best start in five seasons with Pac-12 conference play set to begin at the start of the calendar year.
Long before his explosion onto the college basketball scene as the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year in 2011, Crabbe was a standout scholastic player in Los Angeles - one of the nation's hoops hotbeds. He first picked up a basketball at the age of four years old and his passion for the game grew exponentially from there.
"I remember watching Michael Jordan with my dad and it was inspiring to me," Crabbe said. "It looked like something fun to do. Eventually, we got a basketball court in the back yard, and I would go outside with my dad and shoot hoops all the time."
As he continued to grow, so did his presence on the basketball scene in southern California.
"I played basketball just because I loved to play, but once I got to high school and I started getting attention from people and letters from colleges, I started to see how serious basketball really was," the Price High School product said. "I started putting extra work in to my game to develop my skills."
He chose Cal and the Bay Area over several southern California schools above all because of the bond he developed with the coaches and his future teammates.
"Throughout the recruiting process, Cal was the one school I remember that was at most of my games and was in contact with me the most," he said. "They recruited me from the beginning and I felt a close relationship with the program. It is great to be representing California. Even though we are in northern California, I still get friends and family to the games supporting me."
One of his former teammates at Price joined him at Cal in forward Richard Solomon. The two have known each other ever since they began playing the game at a young age and have always been close.
The juniors, now in their fourth-straight year of playing on the same team after Solomon transferred over to Price High School for his senior prep season, are roommates at Cal and have shared a lot of great memories.
"Allen has been like a brother to me through it all," Solomon said. "His family treats me like their own, and my family treats him the same. Allen has always been there for me. He is a great teammate and an even better friend."
Family is a big part of Crabbe's life. He has always been very close with his mom and dad and his older sister.
"My mom and dad and my sister are the reason why I do everything that I do today," Crabbe said. "They are my motivation and my encouragement to try and become the best basketball player that I can be. Sometimes, I feel like I doubt myself and they are the ones that are there for me. They see the potential in me and are always supporting me. Whatever dreams that I have, with hard work I will be able to achieve them."
Crabbe's Cal family has been equally as supportive throughout his years with the Golden Bears. He saw immediate playing time as a freshman, which he didn't expect. His teammates were there to assist with his adjustment to college and by the time his freshman season was complete, the first-year Golden Bear was crowned the league's newcomer of the year.
"My freshman year was a great learning experience; I really wasn't expecting to play as much as I did," Crabbe said. "The guys on the team helped me adjust and play to my abilities so I can reach my potential."
Now a junior, Crabbe is regarded as one of the nation's best at his position and his future in the game shows no boundaries.
Playing for Coach Montgomery is something I couldn't pass up," Crabbe said. "I have learned a lot of things from him and the staff. He has had experience on the NBA level and my dream is to make it to the next level. Coach can definitely help me understand the things that I need to get better at so that I can make it one day."
That day will come down the road, but for now, Crabbe is focused on winning a Pac-12 championship with his teammates in Berkeley.
Regarded as quiet and reserved off the court, Crabbe is all business on the court and is poised to bring a championship home to Cal.