If Fraport Skyliner mascot Dunking Kong who is the big goofy looking, but very loyal monkey that cheers on the 2004 Beko BBL champion at home games were to set up his own tight obstacle course on the floor with the objective to weave in and out of the small cones with a scooter and not to knock any over, Fraport Skyliner rookie Justin Cobbs might not have a perfect score if he were to attempt a miraculous ride without any contact from the scooter to a cone. Just to weave between the tightly placed cones would be a massive challenge for even the most gifted people like BMX rider Tom Dugan if he were given the chance. When you watch the extreme smoothness and elasticity of Justin Cobbs on the court, one would never expect that he could ever be clumsy in any way. However back when he was balling at California(NCAA) he had an experience with teammate Richard Solomon where he seemed to know better himself not to do something and did it anyway and got the clumsiness label put upon him. Cobbs didn´t want to move a glass of water, but did anyway and a short time later had knocked it over. Anyone can knock over a glass of water and this whole experience was more of a ribbing from Solomon in the direction of Cobbs than any kind of real truth that the American is someone that is inept and more unlikely to bump into people than Paris Hilton is to go on a eating binge at Mcdonalds in downtown Los Angeles without make up on. However one thing is for sure, Cobbs is as distant from being clumsy on the court as teammate Jacob Burtschi getting an ally-op dunk pass from Quantez Robertson. Cobbs came to the Fraport Skyliners in November 2014 and turned a cellar team to a playoff candidate and led the team to the Eurochallenge Final 4 with a 10-0 record.
Fraport Skyliner head coach Gordon Herbert has made some real steals in his time with the club and has proven to have that special touch of knowing when it is absolutely to bring in a player. In his first tenure with the club, he brought in unknown Americans Chris Williams and Tyrone Ellis who led the team to the Beko BBL title in 2004. In the fall of 2010, the head coach brought in Dashaun Wood from Trevisio who hadn´t played in a year and was overcoming a serious injury. Herbert took a huge risk in bringing the Detroit native to Frankfurt, but his wisdom proved to be golden as they took Alba Berlin to a 5th game , but lost just missing the final and Wood was named MVP and was a main reason why the team came so far. Herbert seemed to have made the right call again this season needing to react at the point guard position as Richard Williams, Konstantin Klein and Max Merz were all suffering from injuries. Herbert brought in Justin Cobbs who had had a whirlwind of a rookie season after two months having played briefly in preseason with Laboral Kutxa Vitoria and then battled his way through the cuts of the Charlotte Bobcats training camp, but was the last cut as experience won over his youth as the club stuck to keeping veterans. He then had an unforgettable stay with VEF Riga (Latvia-LBL): VTB United League: 3 games: 3.0ppg, 2.3rpg, 1.7apg, 1.0spg; Eurocup: 4 games: 1.3ppg. He never found properly into the rotation and was giving his walking papers before he had even found the local Burger King in Riga. It was a long way to feeling his first professional success with the Fraport Skyliners as he had a long and successful college career even if it didn´t start with a bang.
Cobbs is a 24 year old 191cm point guard from Los Angeles, California that started his basketball career at Bishop Montgomery High School. There he had a great career as he led Bishop Montgomery High School to a second-place finish in the California Division IV Tournament and was named Most Valuable Player for CIF Division IV. He received the John R. Wooden High School Player of the Year Award for CIF Division IV, was named to the First Team CIF Southern Section Division IV-AA and was Co-Player of the Year in the state of California as a junior. As a senior he averaged 20.4 points, 4.5 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game. This strong senior season got the interest of Minnessota(NCAA) head coach Tubby Smith who had been an assistant to Rick Pitino at Kentucky and also was head coach for nine years. However Cobbs never figured much into the plans as a freshman as he averaged only 2.1ppg, 1.3apg in 34 games. There weren´t many highlights at Minnesota and perhaps his biggest was scoring a season-high seven points in a season-high 18 minutes in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals against Purdue. Smith´s defensive system didn´t seem to fit the style of Cobbs and he quickly transferred to California where he would play three season for head coach Mike Montgomery. Already as a sophomore, he became a key figure in their play as he played 34 games averaging 12.6ppg, 3.1rpg, 5.0apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 48.0%, 3PT: 41.3%, FT: 80.1%. He started in 27 of 34 games and got his first start in his eighth game. Had a career high against Oregon with 28 points and had 14 points and 11 assists against Utah. As a junior he improved his scoring stats playing 34 games averaging 15.0ppg, 3.5rpg, 4.8apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 46.8%, 3PT: 34.9%, FT: 82.7% Some highlights in his second season was a season high 26 points against Utah, season high nine assist in a win against UCLA, career high five steals against Utah and named DIRECTV Classic Most Outstanding Player and Pac-12 Player of the Week after scoring 58 points in the Bears’ three victories in the tournament. AS a senior he improved his scoring and assist average and averaged 15.6ppg, 2.9rpg, 5.8apg, FGP: 46.6%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 81.7%. He helped the team reach the NIT Elite 8. Especially in his senior year he profited from having Allen Crabbe on the court as many saw this duo as the best in the PAC 12. Crabbe would move on to the Portland Trailblazers after his junior year while Cobbs only has the memory of playing with him and the ongoing dream of joining him one day in the NBA. Two unforgettable memories was his buzzer beater step back jumper from the corner beating then number one school Arizona and his game winner against Oregon. Cobbs was in the air so long after falling back and that it seemed like he was floating backwards. His first instinct is too always ste his teammates up before scoring himself even if the stats don´t suggest it. Cobbs did a good job in his college career developing that vital point guard trait of knowing how to balance knowing when to finish and when to find his teammates and that has continued to carry on into his professional rookie season in Germany.
This season with the Fraport Skyliners Cobbs had a superb 18-9 record in the BBL and 10-2 in Eurochallenge play which is impressive that as he was a rookie and overseas for the first time. After hardly having stepped off the plane he helped Frankfurt beat MBC in Leipzig contributing 8 points. Then he had a 20 game streak of scoring in double figures in 20 games including Eurochallenge play. Overall he has scored in double figures in 24 of 27 games. He helped the team win four of his first five games including an impressive 93-74 victory against 2009 BBL champion EWE Baskets Oldenburg where he chipped in 17 points and eight assists in 35 minutes. He also helped the team to a big 87-80 win against Alba Berlin where he had 20 points and swept Oldenburg 83-81 with a 19 point 10 assists effort. He also has shone in Eurochallenge play where he is undefeated and is averaging 17,1ppg, 3,2rpg and 6,4apg. After being crushed in Aalstar 94-59 as Justin Cobbs wasn´t with the team yet, in the second match with Cobbs they clobbered the Belgium team 80-58 as Cobbs had 20 points and the two performances were like day and night. Frankfurt would never have reached the Eurochallenge Final 4 without Cobbs. Rialto California native Andrew Bock who played with the Frankfurt farm team played against Cobbs in high school and played on the same AAU team and watched him a lot the last four months. “All good teams need a player to look up to and to go to. Cobbs has been that player. You see the difference when he isn´t on the court”, stressed Fraport Skyliners Juniors point guard Andrew Bock. Cobbs was instrumental in the 94-92 double OT win in Den Bosch where he contributed 23 points or the 112-103 double OT against Avtodor Saratov on the road as he steered 16 points and 12 assists. However his biggest games in a Frankfurt jersey was his leadership in the two wins against Enisey where he averaged 19,5ppg and 8,5apg in the two games. In the first game he led the club to a 77-74 win as he once again took over in crunch time leading the club to victory making the right decisions. In the do or die game three with a ticket on the line for the Eurochallenge final four, Frankfurt had a horrible first half being down by 19 points, but made a legendary comeback in the second half scoring an unbelievable 60 points as the team won 85-80. Cobbs went a little overboard in the first half trying to score too much, but in the second half, he took a back seat to shooting and just played the role of classic playmaker and steered his team back and showed that he will do whatever is told of him and keeping that ego if any locked up in the crucial moments when team basketball and game intelligence are most important. The calmness of Cobbs in tight situations has been incredible as he seldom makes a mistake. “His calmness is like that of Jarret Jack. Both are clutch players and have the similar body type. He doesn´t force shots, but can get any type of shot that he wants”, added Andrew Bock. With the home stretch of the season approaching fast, Bock has seen Cobbs improve much and remembers the Alba Berlin game most. “He has improved a lot and has always been clutch. The team relies on him to get the job done and he helps the team win which is something that great point guards do. He gets more and more confidence with the offensive schemes which is making the team better. His most amazing game was the win against Alba Berlin where he made three clutch shots”, said Andrew Bock. A big strength of Cobbs recently has been the growing blind understanding of him and German national player Johannes Voigtmann as they have become a dangerous pick and roll tandem. However there are also other assets in the game of Cobbs that doesn´t get noticed right away. “I think people tend to overlook his ability to keep the team together and make everything function. I also think that his one on one defense gets overlooked”, warned Andrew Bock. Cobbs also had some below average games like in Bonn where he had only 9 points and an uncharachteristic five turnovers in a 76-70 loss where they were up by 15 points and let Bonn back in the game and win. One could rack up his performance to being a rookie who can´t always be perfect, but overall his play has been near immaculate. Bock saw the last game of Cobbs against Bremerhaven where he had an off shooting game with five points, but when his team needed him most made a clutch bucket in crunch time and then set up Johannes Voigtmann and Quantez Robertson sealing the win. Cobbs started to struggle to struggle at the start of March with that loss in Bonn where he coughed up the ball 5 times in seven of the last 14 games. But he didn´t do a better job in the last three playoff games against FC Bayern Munich having only 7 turnovers in total. He also didn´t have the crunch time touch in the Eurochallenge as Frankfurt lost at the end to eventual winner Nanterre. It has been a long season for Cobbs, a time where the NCAA season was usually over. He seemed a bit fatigued and opponents had done their homework better and figured out his tendencies better as he wasn´t always as consistent on the set play as in the past. If Bock will meet Cobbs on the playground this summer is unknown, but he definitely picked up some pointers from his game. “I liked how he was able to pick up things. The most important thing that I saw him do was being so calm in pressure situations. That is always useful in a pressure situation”, added Andrew Bock. An interesting thing about Cobbs is that anytime he exits the dressing room after a game sporting his Los Angeles Dodgers cap he always has the same expression no matter if Frankfurt won on a buzzer beater, by 10, 20 or 30 points. Even when he loses, you wouldn´t know had you been locked in a closet exactly how his team had played. He is a guy that has a healthy cockiness combined with that knowledge that he comprehends that he is one of the better players on the floor. It is no secret that Cobbs wants to be in the NBA like most any other player, but he has a better chance than most out there. He definitely will play NBA Summer league this summer with the Charlotte Bobcats and the rest will have to do with getting the right situation and having some luck. “He definitely can make the NBA. He is an NBA caliber player”, warned Andrew Bock. Making the impossible happen by upsetting one of the big B´s with FC Bayern Munich didn´t happen as the Fraport Skyliners lost 3-1 and he finished his stay in Frankfurt in fine fashion averaging 15ppg and four assists in the four game playoff series against FC Bayern Munich Now he has a few months time to prepare for his big dream the NBA. Even if Cobbs didn´t have luck balancing water in his college career, if he does make the NBA in a few months then any Skyliner ex teammate can dare Cobbs to try to balance anything and even if he is clumsy, nobody will care as the celebrations of making the big show will by far outweigh any mess produced on the floor.