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Remembering the Seniors: Justin Cobbs

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How will you remember Justin Cobbs and his time at Cal?


Leland Wong: I'll grab the easy answer here—the first things I'll remember about Cobbs are his near–buzzer beater against SMU and his game-winning last-minute shots at Oregon and the one that lead us to the upset over #1 Arizona at Haas Pavilion.

It's also been great to watch him develop into a player who can either take the team on his back and be the clutch player who scores when needed or distribute the ball and facilitate scoring by his teammates.

Reef: A lead guard with superb ball skills whose talent could not be fully realized on Cal teams without enough scoring options to balance out what he brought to the table. Justin did not have the raw offensive ability to take over games on a regular basis, but he was plenty good enough to be a dangerous third or fourth option while also effectively distributing and facilitating within a balanced offense. I think, to his credit, that this was the direction his instincts often took him, which is why he had so many quiet first halves over the course of his career. In an ideal world he would not have been asked to be a first or second option, but when Monty put him in that role, Justin did his best to carry the team, sometimes with spectacular results.

More importantly, he attempted everything asked of him with steady, consistent effort, and without complaint. He always looked like he was happy to be out there, with the ball in his hands, running the Golden Bear offense. I guess that's the heart of the point guard position. Making whatever decision you need to make to get a better outcome for your team. Justin Cobbs always tried to do that, and often did it very, very well.

Ruey Yen: Maybe it's because he came to Cal as a transfer, but every since he was able to get on the floor, Justin Cobbs has produced for the Golden Bears - playing nearly 35 minutes a game with at least a dozen+ points and 5 dimes. Of course, Cobbs also steadily improved his game over the year to become the most consistent player for the Bears in his senior year. A combo guard that was forced to become more of a pure passer later in his career, there is no doubt that those buzzer beaters that Leland alluded to will be what Cal fans remember (or see the in replays) for years to come. The play where he takes one step inside the 3 point line and then elevate to take that high arching jumper has produce the same sequence of thoughts in my head every time. It goes from "why did he settle for that shot" to "maybe it will go in" to "he's done it again! [or "I knew that was a terrible shot"]. One thing that you can count on Justin Cobbs is that he will be the one taking that final shot...including the very last one of the Mike Montgomery era at Cal.

Vlad Belo: I will remember Justin Cobbs as clutch. His game winning shots at Oregon in 2013 and against #1 Arizona this year are memorable moments not only for his career but also two if the most memorable moments of the Mike Montgomery era. Cobbs was a guy who WANTED the ball at the end of the game to take the last shot.

More often than not, Cobbs was a steadying influence on the floor, a good floor leader. Monty trusted him and that gave me confidence I'm him as well. And while he wasn't quite Jerome Randle at the FT line (who is?!?), there was no one these last two years I wanted to see at the line late in games more than Cobbs.

Avinash Kunnath: Justin will always be a favorite Golden Bear of mine considering the load we put on him the past two seasons. Whether he liked it or not, anytime he stepped onto the court he had to be the leader because no one else could be. And I think he performed very well given the talent he had to work with. This year he had two bigs who rarely posted up, a bunch of wings who struggled to shoot, and a head coach who was mentally pondering about the best fishing spots along the West Coast next few years. That's a load for any point guard to handle, and it gets even worse when our five-minute offense pretty much became "let Justin do something with the ball". Somehow this team nearly went to the tournament anyway and was a few bounces away from the Dance (nail a shot against ASU or Colorado or Utah here and there...).

So I really appreciate that about him.  He had to shoulder the offensive load on a team bereft of offensively gifted players, play WAY too many minutes (particularly his junior year, when he and Allen Crabbe sat maybe for 3-4 minutes a game), and still ended up producing extremely efficient offensive seasons. He was probably more comfortable shooting rather than distributing, but he grew into his role as the primary point guard and kept them from completely unraveling when things got tough. He took each loss in his final month with Cal extremely hard, knowing how perilously close we were to falling off the bubble. It was saddening but really endearing, and I'll miss watching him lead the Bears.

I just wish he didn't have to do so much heavy lifting.

LeonPowe: I've always liked point guards. I grew up watching Magic Johnson and Norm Nixon. In the 90s, my favorite players were Jason Kidd and Nick Van Exel. Through this decade, I took pleasure in watching Ayinde Ubaka (I know), Jerome Randle, that one year Jorge played point and now Justin Cobbs. You'd think on a list of such great points (and Ayinde) that Justin would be down on the list, but honestly, he's one of my absolute favorites. He was always so steady - and I felt he had a really good feel balancing his game between scoring and distributing.  He didn't really have one dominant skill like passing or shooting, but instead seemed to have a complete tool box for point guards. Could he set up the offense to get the ball to the post or shooters? Yes. Could he call his own number and get to the rim? Yes. Could he shoot outside (Yes - although his accuracy dropped as he lost reliable scoring teammates). He wasn't flashy, but he was very very solid and there's something I really appreciate about that.