With Allen Crabbe no longer on the roster, the California Golden Bears hoped they could fill the void left by last year’s PAC-12 player of the year. One of the guys coach Mike Montgomery hoped would help fill Crabbe’s role was one of the nation’s top high school prospects, Jabari Bird. Bird was recruited by the Golden Bears to do a nearly impossible task, and he’s done a very good job at doing it—perhaps better than a lot of people would expect.
The California Golden Bears have 11 games under their belt and have an 8-3 record. There is still plenty of the season to be played, but enough of it has gone by where we can take a look and see just how well Jabari Bird has been playing. If I had to rate his performance on a 10-point scale, I would give Jabari Bird a 7.5. He’s playing well, but there’s a little room for improvement.
Bird has played some great games. His best game so far has been against the undefeated Syracuse Orangemen where he put up 17 points, had seven rebounds, and had two assists. The area he needs to improve in is playing closer to this level in all of his games. I just pointed out how well he played against Syracuse, but his very next game against Dayton was a six-point, one rebound, two assist effort. Jabari Bird’s stats from one game to the next are very up and down; the above example is not the only instance of this happening. The good news, though, is that moving forward, we know Jabari Bird can put up good numbers on any given night. As time goes on, we will hopefully see him put up the numbers he has on a good night on a more regular basis.
Another reason why I’m not giving Bird a perfect 10 out of 10 is because he doesn’t lead the team in any category: points, rebounds, assists, steals, or blocks. I don’t expect the freshman to lead the team in most of these categories, since Justin Cobbs is doing a fine job, as he leads the team in points per game (13.9) and assists per game (6.4). Justin Cobbs won’t be around next year, as he is a senior, and may find himself on the bench for some reason this year. I both cases, Bird will need to step up and run things from his position as a guard. Bird will be ready for this challenge at some point; hopefully he will be ready to do this if needed within the next month or so.
Overall, I’m impressed With Jabari Bird’s play. I do think he has a little bit of room for improvement, but I know he’ll get there; he certainly has the potential for it. As a California Golden Bears fan, I hope it happens this season.