OAKLAND -- Cal basketball players had no hint coach Mike Montgomery would retire after this past season, the team's former star point guard said Wednesday.

"It was a surprise," Justin Cobbs said after a workout at the Warriors facility. "Nobody heard anything. You know Monty, he's just laid back."

Cobbs said the players got a text alerting them to a March 31 team meeting, during which Montgomery got straight to the point.

"He said, 'Guys, I'm healthy, the cancer's still gone, I have no regrets. I think I've left this program in a good situation and I think it's time for me to step down,' " Cobbs said. "That was it."

Montgomery underwent surgery for bladder cancer in 2011, but was given a clean bill of health and has reported no further health issues. At 67, after 32 seasons of coaching college basketball, Montgomery simply decided it was time to step away.

"For the players, nobody saw it coming," said Cobbs, who arrived at Cal in the fall of 2011 as a transfer from Minnesota and played three seasons for Montgomery. "He seemed happy, seemed at peace with everything. Seemed like he was having fun."

Cobbs recalled the team's laser-tag outing that Montgomery scheduled to relieved late-season pressure. Montgomery donned gear and fired away with his players.

"He was in there having fun," Cobbs said. "I thought he would come back next year."

Montgomery retired after a career that produced a 677-316 record at Montana, Stanford and Cal. He built Stanford into a national powerhouse and reached the Final Four in 1998. His 130-73 record was the best six-year run in Cal history and included a Pac-10 title in 2010, the school's first conference championship in 50 years.

Cobbs, hoping to continue his career in the NBA, said he benefited from Montgomery, whom he called "an old-school coach."

"He taught me a lot about team basketball and maturity and owning up to your mistakes, and as a point guard taking ownership of the team," Cobbs said. "So when something goes wrong, it's not really your fault but you should take control. That's helped me become more of a leader."

Cobbs said those lessons were useful even on Wednesday as he directed teammates in 3-on-3 drills on the Warriors practice court.

"Mike's not always easy, but I love what he's done for me," Cobbs said. "He's helped me become a better player."

For more on Cal sports, see the Bear Talk blog at ibabuzz.com/beartalk. Follow Jeff Faraudo on Twitter at Twitter.com/JeffFaraudo.