Throughout this century, Texas has been able to pick up more than a handful of 5-star prospects to play in burnt orange at the Erwin Center. Before freshman Mohamed Bamba’s recent decision, former Horn and the Brooklyn Nets’ 22nd overall pick Jarrett Allen was the next 5-star, one and done talent, destined to lead Texas to relative success thanks to his elite skill level.
WHAT HE BROUGHT
When Allen committed much later in the recruiting process than most, it was seen as a big boost to Texas’ 2016 class that included another highly ranked big man in sophomore James Banks and a playmaker at guard with sophomore Andrew Jones. Inside Texas’ Tim Preston at the time of Allen’s commitment wrote:
Allen’s versatility is what has made him one of the top forward prospects in the country. Jarrett is able to shoot, pass, rebound and defend at a high level. Jarrett has done a great job of extending his range out to the three point line where he has to be guarded, but he’s equally comfortable in the lane facing the basket. As a rebounder, he loads well and chases rebounds in space. As a facilitator/passer, Jarrett has solid vision and makes good choices where he can be a safety valve at the high post. Defensively, he’s working on being aggressive and has good timing to go along with very good length on the interior. He’s an impressive player with still solid upside.
Fans had to wait until the regular season to see Allen play after he was held out of the Texas Tip-Off in October for precautionary measures.
WHAT HE DID
Allen started in every game of his Texas career, and from the start, was called on to be a focal point of the offense. Head coach Shaka Smart made it clear in his media sessions that the offense started with the big man. As he utilized his smooth finishing abilities, but mostly kept his shooting acumen hidden, Allen began to face more and more pressure from opposing defenses while the national media began to focus on him.
His ability to stay on the court for extended periods of time (32 mpg) while also limiting himself to one foul-out in his career allowed him to showcase his skill, especially as Texas, though struggling, appeared in national, non-Longhorn Network televised games. Allen’s best game at Texas was likely his most widely watched, when Texas traveled to Lawrence, Kansas to take on the always strong Kansas Jayhawks on CBS’ nationally televised game.
In a game the 2016-17 Longhorns had no business being in, Allen filled the score sheet to keep Texas close for much of the game until Kansas finally created a 12 point margin of victory toward the end. Allen’s career highs of 22 points, 19 rebounds and three blocks introduced himself on a national stage, and showcased why he became a first round pick.
Allen’s highlight of the year came in Morgantown against West Virginia in a play ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla claimed was the “dunk of the year.” With around 2:40 left in the first half and trailing by 13, Allen received a pass from the point from Jones, took one gather step, and ferociously slammed the ball over West Virginia’s sophomore forward Sagaba Konate.
Because of the Longhorns poor 11-22 record, Allen never had a chance to play in the postseason. Less than two weeks after Texas was eliminated from the Big 12 Tournament, Allen declared for the NBA Draft. Not too long after, Allen hired an agent, officially ending his Texas career.
Allen now joins a Brooklyn Nets team that won only 20 games in the most recent season. Although Brook Lopez departed Brooklyn in a trade, Allen will have to fight for playing time with a player that came in that trade, Timofey Mozgov. The Nets also have another center on the roster in 7-foot tall Justin Hamilton.
The offensive skillset that Allen has, including a jumpshot Texas fans rarely got to see, should allow the Nets coaches to be flexible with how they play him.
Allen will have to prove he can stand the rigors of an 82 game season (like all rookies), but will also have to show toughness on defense. Attitude is no issue for Allen, for although he might be described as disconnected, he is simply showing his calm, collected demeanor that made him a great personal fit for Smart at Texas. Allen will have to improve on free throw shooting to a more serviceable mark than his 56 percent while at Texas.
Overall, Texas adds a 16th name to the list of Longhorns taken in the first round of the NBA Draft. Though Allen’s skillset and play will be missed, Texas still has Banks on the roster, as well as transfer Dylan Osetowski, who had to sit a year due to NCAA restrictions.
The 2017-18 team will feature another 5-star big man in Bamba. Bamba and Allen bring different skills to the game, but Allen’s play in his lone season at Texas provided a foundation for Bamba to see how he would be used at Texas, and ultimately, how he might envision himself in the upcoming season.