If Allen Crabbe follows suit with the four previous Pac-10 Freshmen of the Year, expect the 6’6” wing to have a monster year. That’s because he’d be playing like Chase Budinger, Kevin Love, Isaiah Thomas, or Derrick Williams. Yes, that’s four NBA players, two-conference POYs, and two lottery picks. Lofty shoes to fill for the reining conference FOY.
But Crabbe has the skill set to do so.
He opened his collegiate career as most freshmen would on a team that just lost eight players to graduation and transfer. He struggled out of the gate averaging just 9 ppg and taking more than ten attempts just twice before conference play (compared to taking single digit attempts once in conference play). But once leauge play began, Crabbe’s level of play picked up. He asserted himself as the elite shooter that he is and finished the season as the league’s top in conference three point shooter (48%) and sixth leading scorer (16.4 ppg).
No one has ever doubted that Crabbe could shoot. The question is can he take the next step – both literally and figuratively – and be more than a shooter. The knock has been that Crabbe isn’t quite an elite athlete, perhaps can’t turn the corner, slash through the lane.
But Crabbe’s demonstrated improvement, progressing into the conference FOY, bodes well for the wing heading into his sophomore campaign. He has a dynamic tandem in seniors Harper Kamp and Jorge Gutierrez, both of whom should be able to open the floor up – either by slashing or from the post, respectively – for Crabbe to shoot. He has that going for him.
And while he may not be an elite athlete – and this is what I love about Crabbe’s game – he crashes the boards. He’s not the biggest guy on the court, not by any stretch of even a Dr. Seus imagination, but at 6’6” 205 lbs, Crabbe gets after it. He finished his freshman year pulling in 5.3 boards per game, third most for the Bears. And do I see two assists per game? Thirteen, five, and two? Sounds a bit like a complete player to me.
What’s more, players often make their biggest strides between their freshman and sophomore years; having acclimated to the college game, gaining some strength and experience. Here’s some anecdotal evidence using players similar to Crabbe:
|Patrick Christopher (Cal)||5 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1 assist||15 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2 assists|
|Trent Lockett (ASU)||6.7, 3, 1||13, 5, 2.5|
|Brandon Roy (UW)||6, 3, 1||13, 5, 3|
|Arron Afflalo (UCLA)||10, 3, 2||15, 4, 2|
While he certainly has things to improve – strength being one of them –from a skill set stand point, Crabbe can flat out play. Can he play like his FOY predecessors? Time will tell. But don’t be surprised if Crabbe is among the top five scorers in the league this season and an All-Conference performer.