Former KU recruit Jarrett Allen fed off energy in Allen Fieldhouse
Flashback to last fall and Jarrett Allen was on an official visit to Allen Fieldhouse, envisioning himself playing for the Kansas Jayhawks.
After Saturday, all of the fans in Lawrence were left wondering what could have been. Allen posted the best performance of his young collegiate career during a 79-67 loss to the Jayhawks, leaving everyone in awe of his potential.
He scored 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting with 19 rebounds (seven offensive). It was the most boards by a KU opponent since 2004.
“I was really pumped up,” said Allen, who set career highs in points, rebounds and field goals. “The whole team was pumped up. I just fed off everybody’s energy. I mean it’s Kansas — the No. 1 or 2 team in the country. And then playing at Allen Fieldhouse, you just hear rumors about how loud it’s going to be, so I just got excited to play.”
Allen chose the Longhorns over KU and Houston. He didn’t end his recruitment until June and the Jayhawks had plenty of depth in the front court with Landen Lucas, Carlton Bragg, Mitch Lightfoot, Dwight Coleby and Udoka Azubuike.
“Everybody knows now why we wanted him so badly,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “He’s not only a great college player, but he’ll be a great pro, too.”
Along with playing in the fieldhouse, where he once sat in the crowd, Allen was familiar with Josh Jackson, the top-ranked recruit from his class. He remembered playing against Jackson once on the AAU circuit and they were teammates in the McDonald’s All-American game.
But when the ball tipped in the air to open the game, the 6-foot-11 Allen said he didn’t spend any time thinking about playing against Jackson. The two five-star freshmen even guarded each other at times because of KU’s four-guard lineup.
“In my head, the matchup wasn’t a big thing for me,” Allen said. “I just wanted to go out and play.”
When the Longhorns (7-12, 1-6 Big 12) tried to make a run in the second half, they turned to Allen. He showcased everything in his arsenal. He swished mid-range jumpers. He wasn’t afraid to fight for space in the paint. He scored on put-back attempts.
He’s still thin at 235 pounds, but his star has brightened during Big 12 play. He’s scored at least 17 points in the past four games.
The only thing that stopped him midway through the second half was a leg injury. Allen thinks he landed on another player’s foot going for an offensive rebound. He was helped off of the court by his teammates and had to go to the locker room, but returned with under eight minutes remaining.
“In the second half Jarrett just dominated us,” Self said.
Allen, a Round Rock, Texas native, recorded a double-double in the first half with 10 points and 10 rebounds. That included a buzzer-beating turnaround jumper, cutting UT’s deficit to six points at the intermission.
“That was the Jarrett that I’ve been waiting to see,” Texas freshman guard Andrew Jones said.
Allen, who was averaging 11.9 points and 7.8 rebounds, said the biggest change was playing aggressive — “There’s a difference between playing hard and being aggressive,” he said.
Then there was the Allen Fieldhouse factor. Allen said sitting in the crowd doesn't compare to playing on the court. Did his first game inside of Allen Fieldhouse live up to the hype?
“When you go out there, like during warmups, you just feel the energy of people walking in,” Allen said. “You don’t feel that anywhere else.”