BERKELEY — Allen Crabbe has joined an exclusive Cal club that seems to be growing every March.
The junior guard won Pac-12 Conference Player of the Year on Monday after leading the league in scoring. He is the seventh Cal player and third in the last four years to win the conference’s most prestigious award, joining Jason Kidd (1994), Shareef Abdur-Rahim (1996), Ed Gray (1997), Sean Lampley (2001), Jerome Randle (2010) and Jorge Gutierrez (2012).
“You work so hard so to get an award like this, it’s a blessing,” Crabbe said. “I feel like everything happens for a reason. It seems like everything has fallen into place.”
The conference also announced Oregon’s Dana Altman won Coach of the Year. Arizona State’s Jahii Carson and UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad shared Freshman of the Year honors. Colorado forward Andrew Roberson earned the Defensive Player of the Year award. And Stanford junior forward Dwight Powell took home Most Improved Player of the Year.
While Cal started off slow this season, Crabbe made sure the program finished strong.
Crabbe averaged 18.6 points and six rebounds per game, propelling the Golden Bears (20-10, 12-6) to seven straight wins and a likely NCAA Tournament berth before losing 83-70 at home to Stanford in the regular-season finale. He is 10th on Cal’s career scoring list with 1,489 points.
“I am really happy for Allen,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said in a statement. “He has been a mainstay in our program and has improved each year. Allen has been a guy that has been under constant pressure to carry the load offensively and has done a very good job for us. This is a reward for a lot of hard work and I think well-justified.”
The awards are voted on by the conference’s coaches. They are not allowed to vote for themselves or their own players.
Crabbe led the conference in scoring the entire season. He also ranked fifth in 3-pointers made per game (two), sixth in free-throw percentage (81 percent) and 20th in rebounds (six) per game.
The Los Angeles native scored at least 20 points in 14 games, including two 30-point performances. He had 10 points or more in all but three games. He scored a career-best 33 points in a 79-62 win over Pepperdine on Nov. 13.
The Bears earned the No. 2 seed in the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas, and they can add to their credentials with a strong showing this week. Cal begins play Thursday against the winner of seventh-seeded Southern California and No. 10 Utah.
Crabbe also earned First-Team honors along with Carson, Muhammad, Roberson, Powell, Colorado guard Spencer Dinwiddie, UCLA guard Larry Drew II, Arizona forward Solomon Hill, Arizona guard Mark Lyons and Oregon forward E.J. Singler.
Altman guided Oregon (23-8, 12-6) to a second-place tie with California and Arizona in the league standings after being picked seventh in the preseason media poll. The Ducks have posted three straight 20-win seasons and two consecutive runner-up finishes in Pac-12 play under Altman, who has won Coach of the Year honors in four different conferences.
He also earned coaching honors in the Missouri Valley Conference with Creighton in 2001 and 2002, in the former Big Eight Conference with Kansas State in 1993, and in the Southern Conference with Marshall in 1990. He’s the third Oregon coach to earn coach of the year honors, joining Dick Harter (1977) and Ernie Kent (2002).
Altman has a career record of 478-277. He is 68-34 at Oregon.
The third-seeded Ducks will play their first game in the conference tournament Thursday against the winner of No. 6 Washington and No. 11 Washington State.