Freshman Jaylen Brown had a familiar face from home watching him at Haas Pavilion on Monday night. A familiar face for Cal fans, too.
Former Bears star Shareef Adbur-Rahim – who attended Brown’s high school in Marietta, Georgia – was courtside for No. 15 Cal’s 85-67 victory over UC Santa Barbara.
“He can be as good as he wants to be,” said Abdur-Rahim, who was Pac-10 Player of the Year as a freshman 20 years ago. “He has all the tools. He’s very talented, works hard. It’s up to him how good he wants to be.”
Brown, the 6-foot-7 forward, had 17 points and seven rebounds and senior Tyrone Wallace provided 24 points and six assists as the Bears (2-0) ran out to a 19-point halftime lead and never were threatened.
With Warriors forward Harrison Barnes also in the crowd, Jordan Mathews scored 17 points, freshman Ivan Rabb had 12 – including 10 for 10 from the free throw line – and Jabari Bird scored 10 as all five starters reached double digits for the second straight game.
Cal was lax to start the second half and UCSB crept within 56-44 with 14 minutes left. “I thought it was unacceptable,” Wallace said. “We came out a little flat and they were aggressive.”
It was no surprise to Abdur-Rahim.
“They’re good but it looks like they’re still figuring out how to play together,” said Abdur-Rahim, who averaged 18.1 points during a 13-year NBA career. “It’s still early in the year. I think they’ll probably be one of the most talented teams that Cal has had. It’s exciting.”
Abdur-Rahim, 38, often watched Brown at Wheeler High because his own youngest brother played on the team. He said fans shouldn’t be concerned that Brown at times has appeared to be pressing a bit.
“There’s a lot of expectations and he probably wants to do really well. That’ll happen,” Abdur-Rahim said.