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March 5, 2012
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On Monday, each of the California men's basketball team's starters was honored -- in one way or another -- by the Pac-12 Conference. None received higher honors than senior guard Jorge Gutierrez.
Gutierrez became the first player in conference history to take home both the Pac-12 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, which was awarded from the 1983-84 season to the 1985-86 season and continuously from the 2007-08 season to the present.
"It's really unusual that a player would be both defensive player and player of the year, so obviously, he's earned the respect of the coaches around the league," said Bears head coach Mike Montgomery.
Only once in the conference's history has the same team boasted winners of both awards, when UCLA's Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love won the defensive and all-around awards, respectively, for the 2007-08 season.
"I'm really happy for Jorge," said Montgomery, who took a flier on a relatively unknown prospect out of Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep as he and his staff scrambled to put a recruiting class together after replacing the fired Ben Braun. "This is an award voted on by the coaches, and you can't vote for your own player, so they obviously, I think, voted for Jorge based on what he has meant to our program; I think more than just this year -- but over a four-year period. I think every coach in the league would love to have Jorge on their team and for all the intrinsic things that he does for you. Certainly, we've been the beneficiary of his services. We've finished first, second, third, and fourth, in the four years I've been here. He's been here for all four of those years and has been a big part of that."
Gutierrez was also named to both the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team and the All-Pac-12 Team.
"I think defense is just something I always do," Gutierrez said. "For the past three years, I've been on the defensive team, but never as the defensive player of the year. It's an honor, again, but I feel like I deserve this one. I'm really thankful that I was named player of the year, but I feel like I deserve this one."
Gutierrez became just the sixth Bear to earn the conference's Player of the Year Award, joining program luminaries Jason Kidd (1994), Shareef Abdur-Rahim (1996), Ed Gray (1997), Sean Lampley (2001) and Jerome Randle (2010).
"It means a lot to be named as one of the best players in the conference," said Gutierrez. "Cal history has had a lot of great players from Jerome Randle to Jason Kidd. This is just an honor. It's not even something that I can explain with words but I feel like my hard work has paid off, somehow. It's an honor."
Gutierrez averaged 12.9 ppg (12th in Pac-12), posted 5.3 rebounds per game and a team-best 1.2 steals per game (12th in Pac-12). He is the active conference career leader for assists (408), is second in steals (145) and is third for points (1,189).
"Without my teammates, I would never have been able to achieve this success," he said. "It's all about the team, and I feel like my teammates help me, in many ways, to be the player that I am."
Speaking of teammates, the other four Bears starters also received conference recognition in the annual conference awards. Sophomore Allen Crabbe was named to the All-Pac-12 First Team along with Gutierrez.
"Jorge has been a hard-working player since his freshman year. It's just great to see that his hard work has paid off," Crabbe said. "He really has been a big impact on this program since he arrived. I'm really excited and really happy for him; not only to get Defensive Player of the Year, but Pac-12 Player of the Year is such a big award. I'm honored to be a teammate of his."
Crabbe is sixth in the conference in scoring (15.2 ppg), 14th in rebounding (5.7 rpg), third in free throw percentage (84.2), seventh in three-point shooting (41.2 percent), first in three-point field goals (2.43 per game, 73 overall) and fifth in defensive rebounds (4.73).
"It's just an honor to be named to the first team," Crabbe said. "It just shows that everything pays off; all the work that you put in, in the off season. It's just great to be considered to be first team with all the other great players that are in this conference. It feels good."
Senior power forward Harper Kamp was named to the Second Team.
"It's a tremendous amount of work that he's done for him to get to this point," Kamp said of Gutierrez. "He's a guy that always works on his weaknesses. He's just really humble, and at the same time, really hungry to improve himself at all times, and I think that has shown in his game. He is definitely deserving; that's an award that is not easy to get and he worked really hard for it."
Kamp is tied for 26th in the Pac-12 in scoring (11.1 ppg), 25th in rebounding (5.0 rpg), fifth in field goal percentage (55.5), 14th in free throw percentage (75.8) and 25th in defensive rebounds (3.17).
"Those awards, for me at least, are never the end goal," Kamp said. "I think the goal is to get as much team success as you can, and from that comes some individual accolades and what not. As a team, it helps each other, and as we help each other make plays throughout the year, people will start to give credit to individuals and that's just a product of us winning games. Coach [Montgomery] has always said that we focus on the team first and that all the other stuff will come and there's a lot to take from that."
Sophomore point guard Justin Cobbs was named an All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention, and true freshman David Kravish earned a spot on the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team.
"The individual honors come with team success, and the fact that we have the most wins in the league, and the fact that we're competing for a championship," Montgomery said. "We don't play very many players. We have our five starters and they do the bulk of the playing and the bulk of the scoring and so forth and so on. As a result of that, I think you could make a legitimate case for every one of them. I thought Harper [Kamp] could have been first-team all-conference. Justin Cobbs was named Pac-12 Player of the Week, once, and certainly David Kravish as a freshman was one of the better first-year players in the league. They all stood out, one way or the other, and sometimes, we look at what we're not doing or what's not getting done, but at the end of the day, we did win 23 games and battled to the last seconds for a conference championship."
Cobbs ranks second in the Pac-12 in assists (4.97 apg), sixth in free throw percentage (81.5), 13th in steals (1.17 spg), first in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.48) and 13th in scoring (13.0 ppg).
Kravish is 15th in the league in rebounding (5.7 rpg), eighth in blocked shots (1.2 bpg), 10th in offensive rebounds (2.17) and 19th in defensive rebounds (3.5).
"It means a lot to be named to the team," Kravish said. "I have to attribute my personal success to just being on this team with this unique group of guys; especially Harper bringing me under his wing, teaching me, showing me the ropes, and bringing me along. It's just such a great honor."