The signing of Salesian (Richmond, CA) High School wing Jabari Bird is undoubtedly the Bears' highest-profile signing in the last decade after former Oakland Tech power forward Leon Powe inked with Cal in 2003 after leading Tech to the state championship game and being named a McDonald's All-American.
The fact that the 5 star Bird is the son of former star Bear guard Carl Bird is just an added bonus to both Cal fans and the Bird family.
The senior Bird was Cal's Co-MVP in '75-'76, averaging 15 points per game for the Bears and has continued to follow the program in the decades since, though he never pressured his son to follow him to Cal.
Originally Bird planned to wait until the late signing period in April to make his decision but began to soften his stance in the summer before ultimately committing to Cal in September.
"It did a lot for me signing early with Cal," said Bird. "It took a lot of pressure off me the rest of my senior year and hopefully I can help lead us to another state championship."
With Cal's dynamic backcourt duo of juniors Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbes scoring more than 100 points in the Bears' opening pair of victories, the Salesian senior's excitement is growing to join the team next season.
"That was crazy," said Bird. "I've never seen the offense produce so much for the guards. I think I can fit in really well there, whether Crabbe and Cobbes are back or whether they leave early.
"I've watched Cal's first two games and they look really good," said Bird. "I really like what they're doing with their offense and they're really pressuring the ball on defense, too."
Cal head coach Mike Montgomery was clearly pleased with his biggest signee of his Cal tenure.
“We have watched Jabari grow as a player for a long time,” said Montgomery. “He is a legit size guy that can play both wing positions. He is a scorer. He is a winner. When the game is on the line, he makes a play. He is a player that is well recognized nationally. Everyone knew about Jabari and we are very happy to keep him home. He has a very solid family and a great group that he plays for at Salesian. Jabari is one of the top prospects in America and he is coming to Cal, we couldn’t be happier.”
The consensus Top 25 recruit is coming off a state championship season with Salesian, where he teamed with Cal offensive tackle Freddie Tagaloan in their state final victory over LA Price.
Bird averaged 18.7 points and 4.8 rebounds per game and proved equally adept at draining a three or taking it to the hole in traffic. As those skills continue to be honed, the sky's the limit for the Bear legacy.