The leading scorer in the Pac-10 Conference visits Haas Pavilion on Thursday when Klay Thompson leads Washington State against Cal.
Cougars coach Ken Bone said he sees a younger version of his star junior when he watches Cal freshman Allen Crabbe.
"I do think there's similarities," Bone said of the two 6-foot-6 wings. "(Crabbe) is more aggressive than Klay was when Klay was a freshman. He gets to the free-throw line more, mixes it up and grabs rebounds. He's good already, but he has a chance to be a great one."
Crabbe and the Bears (8-7, 1-2 Pac-10) face a serious challenge Thursday against the Cougars (12-4, 2-2). Tipoff is 7:30 p.m.
While Thompson, averaging 22.3 points per game, has transformed from a catch-and-shoot specialist as a freshman to a versatile scorer, Crabbe's rookie numbers do sit comfortably alongside those Thompson assembled two years ago.
Thompson averaged 12.5 points and 4.2 rebounds as a freshman.
Crabbe averages 9.5 points and 5.5 rebounds. And those numbers are climbing after four games in which he's produced 14.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.
Thompson shot a total of 31 free throws as a freshman; Crabbe already has attempted 27, indicative of growing aggressiveness.
Crabbe also has become something of a workhorse, having played 177 of 200 minutes over the past five games -- most of anyone on the team -- including 40 minutes last Saturday at Arizona State. Coach Mike Montgomery said
"Given the structure of our team right now, Allen's going to get more shots," Montgomery said. "Allen's gaining confidence as he goes and knows that he has to take the shots because we don't have a lot of other people. I'm pleased that he did step up."
Crabbe scored 17 points in each of Cal's two games in Arizona, shooting 7 for 15 from the 3-point line. He also was 7 for 9 from the free-throw line.
Early in the season, Crabbe's coaches and teammates couldn't convince him to shoot more.
"I think he stops himself sometimes, but we try to make him shoot more," junior guard Jorge Gutierrez said. "He's just becoming a little bit more aggressive."
"Sometimes he just has to push it and take shots that are good for us," senior center Markhuri Sanders-Frison added. "He's definitely doing his part."
Most of Crabbe's early reluctance to assert himself was merely his personality, Montgomery said. "Al is not a guy who's going to step in front of somebody in line," he said.
Finally, the message is getting through. "I was trying to be a team player. Coach said I was being too tentative," Crabbe explained. "I had to be more aggressive to help my team win."
Montgomery said the Bears should expect Crabbe to get more attention from opposing defenses. Crabbe says he's ready for it.
"I just have to pull a few more tricks out of the bag of my game," Crabbe said. "Just don't just be one-dimensional shooting 3s all the time when I can do more things to improve my game."
Note: Freshman guard Gary Franklin, who quit the team last week, has transferred to Baylor.
Washington St. (12-4, 2-2 Pac-10) at Cal (8-7, 1-2), 7:30 p.m.