As if the 17 points and 4 assists John Allen Jr. logged in his team's exhibition (loss) against Duke weren't impressive enough, the Western Washington University guard earned high praise from Mike Krzyzewski for the way he ran the team.
"Their kid [John] Allen's going to be one of the best players or is one of the best players in the country," Krzyzewski told media members following Duke's win on Oct. 27. "You're not going to stop a kid like that ..."
Nearly a year ago, the winningest coach in NCAA Division I men's basketball history took notice of Allen Jr. Perhaps the time has come for the rest of the basketball world to make note as well.
With that in mind, Allen Jr. has decided to enter the 2013 NBA D-League Draft.
"I just want to keep playing," the guard recently told RidiculousUpside.com. "Playing in the states and playing in places I've been-- I've been to Boise before-- just to be able to play in the states, instead of traveling abroad, was something I wanted to pursue. I've always felt as though I've had the talent to play with anyone. I feel like D-League is a great path to the NBA, if that's something that comes along in the future."
Of course, there are plenty of other minor league teams located in places besides Boise, where the Idaho Stampede play. Having said that, perhaps Allen Jr.'s willingness to play in Boise is a mutually shared feeling by both sides. A source close to the situation said that the guard recently had a very positive workout with the Portland Trailblazers. In addition to Idaho's parent NBA club, Allen Jr. also worked out for the Utah Jazz. With the D-League Draft just weeks away, he has also garnered interest from teams like the Lakers and Pistons as well.
The guard's early ability to catch the eye of a handful of NBA executives shouldn't come as much of a surprise, however. After all, he did get a ringing endorsement from one of the best coaches of all time.
"It was a great honor," Allen Jr. added. "It was nice getting a chance to talk with [Coach Krzyzewski] and hear words of encouragement. It was cool to hear him say nice things about our team. He just had a specific opportunity to say things about me in his press conference. He said some things about me personally and how I ran the team, but he also talked about how far we'd come as a program. He admired the way we played."
Allen Jr. may be modest when it comes to accepting high praise, but if one thing's for sure, it's that he has no problem competing at a high level.
"I feel like I'm a black belt in basketball," the guard asserted. "The guy I train with teaches the martial arts of basketball. I've been blessed to not only have it taught to me, but to understand it as well. The film I've sent out to a lot of these teams, I feel like I'm ten times better now than I was then. There are things that I've refined and things I've added to my wheel. I feel like I give my team a chance to win. I've proven I can hit shots, hit free-throws, and run an offense."
At just 6'1" and 190 pounds, Allen Jr. is undoubtedly a point guard. That said, while he can run the floor and effectively find his teammates, Allen Jr. also proved while at WWU that he's more than content being embraced as a team's go to guy if need be. He's a playmaker, whether that means dishing the ball out, or taking it to the hole instead.
"It's all about making the right play," he added. "My trainer and I break everything down into math and different percentages. Going down the floor, the best option might be you ten times in a row. You have to be a player who's ready to embrace that role. You have to be a guy that's willing to penetrate, or one who's ready to pass it to your wing. You have to be able to read the defense, to go in transition, and recognize mismatches. Whatever it may be, it's about reading the defense properly. I take advantage of things to make the right plays and get wins."
Allen Jr. is a fierce competitor who seems savvy, smart, and confident enough to truly emerge as that "extension of the coach" type floor general. Above all else, don't allow his D-II background to fool you: he's ready to truly take on the the toughest of competitors.
A Seattle native, the guard has gotten his feet wet in recent years by playing against some of the area's most notable NBA talent. He said, "This summer, I had to guard guys like Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson, and Isaiah Thomas. Jamal puts on a Pro-Am every year. I got to know him through it last year, and played really well there going into my senior year of college. It's a great opportunity for the kids of Seattle, because there's so much talent that comes from the area. Everyone comes back and it gives us an opportunity to play against them and get better."
Needless to say, Allen Jr. hopes to cash in on his recent success and use it to catch on with a D-League team this coming season.