Former five-star power forward Jarrett Allen joined the Texas Longhorns as the nation’s No. 17 overall player, a McDonald’s All-American and would go on to play for his new head coach over the summer as a member of the Team USA U18 squad. In short, the kid is talented and more importantly in today’s age of elite NBA-bound prospects, the owner of some considerable potential with the help of some two-way fine tuning under Shaka Smart. But because of that key word - potential - Smart may not be able to mold the 6’10.5, 224-pound basketball clay that is Allen for more than a single season; a belief evident by DraftExpress, arguably the most credible source for NBA Draft scouting, ranking Allen as the No. 2 NBA prospect in the Big 12.
According to DraftExpress’ Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz, here’s the professional outlook for the freshman Longhorn:
Allen isn't a flashy prospect, but he's very effective in a couple of key areas that translate well to the NBA. He protects the rim at a high level, runs the floor, can guard pick and roll, and has the hands, length and touch to be effective around the rim offensively. The Austin, Texas native has a ways to go with his frame and offensive skill set, and he may end up needing more than one season at UT, but whenever he does decide to make the jump, he has first round potential written all over him.
It’s quite possible that Allen’s time at Texas is reflective of the on-court productivity we saw from the last elite-level big man to spend one season on the Forty Acres before jetting to the NBA as a lottery pick; Myles Turner. While at Texas, Turner never lived up to the program-changing hype that followed him from Euless, and considering he now looks to be one of the NBA’s most promising young big men, the majority of that blame likely falls on the shoulders of then-Texas coach, Rick Barnes.
The hope from Texas fans is that the on-court results Smart sees from Allen will be much more fruitful in what may be a college stint that lasts only until next May. But on the other hand, if Allen’s often mysterious recruitment taught us anything, it’s that he’s a cut from a different cloth and if it’s clear that he’s some significant development away from cracking an NBA rotation, but is still pegged as a lottery pick, as he is right now at No. 10 in DraftExpress’ 2017 mock, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Allen return for 2017-18.
Anything after two seasons would be a gift from the basketball gods, whom Smart has likely developed a great relationship with given his often praised character.
Here’s a glimpse at a few of the strengths and weaknesses factored into why DX slots Allen as the No. 2 prospect in the Big 12 and as the projected No. 10 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft:
-Impressive length and reach for a center prospect – 7'5.5” wingspan with a 9'2.5” standing reach. Frame hasn't improved all that much (224 pounds – lost three pounds between Nike Hoop Summit in April and USA Basketball U18 Training Camp) but he has plenty of room to fill out. Huge hands and feet.
-Fluid, coordinated runner. Quick off the floor. Can finish above the rim when he's able to load up, largely because of his length and reach.
-Impressive instincts and timing as a shot blocker. Not afraid to rotate and challenge athletes at the rim. Challenges almost every shot around the rim.
-Frame still has a long way to go – 224-pound center. Light in the chest and rear. A bit hunched. Slightly short for a center prospect at 6'10.5”. Not the most physical big out there, especially as a post defender.
-Fluid and quick off the floor but doesn't have much pop as a leaper. Limits him as a finisher versus length.
-Not very advanced offensively. Limited to mostly finishes and basic jump hooks. Lacks a degree of confidence in his mid-range jumper. Mechanics vary. Can improve his left hand and post moves to his right shoulder.
Kansas’ freshman small forward Josh Jackson is the Big 12 prospect rated ahead of Allen.