Just before junior college guard Kadeem Allen left to visit the Arizona Wildcats last weekend, Kansas called to offer him a basketball scholarship.
Then, according to those around Allen, the Jayhawks asked the Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College star to head over to their place for a visit one of these days. To think about things and slow down.
It was too little, too late.
The 6-foot-3-inch Allen committed to the Wildcats after spending the weekend in Tucson, having apparently seen all he needed to. The visit was merely a clincher, while Allen said he also became “real close” to Rondae Hollis-Jefferson after spending time with the freshman wing over the weekend.
“I was always leaning toward Arizona because of the attention the coaches have given,” Allen said by telephone from Kansas. “I saw them and talked to them a lot this summer. They just showed me the most interest.”
Although he began drawing interest from several high-major schools after an all-American freshman season at Hutchinson, Allen said UA coach Sean Miller was the first head coach to show up to watch him.
“When I saw him, it was like ‘This is for real,’” Allen said.
From there, the Wildcats never lost the lead in Allen’s recruitment, beating out Kansas, Cincinnati, ASU, Marquette and Memphis, among others. Arizona’s efforts give them – at the least – a replacement for senior combo guard Jordin Mayes next season.
“I think it’s perfect,” said Kirk Angel, Allen’s coach at Wilmington (N.C.) New Hanover High School. “The West Coast and Pac-12 are in for a surprise. He’s really, really good.”
So good that Kansas-based juco scout Jerry Mullen says Allen projects as a more impactful high-major player than even former UA forward Jesse Perry. Mullen had both Allen and Perry at his well-regarded Top 100 juco camps.
“I’m telling you, he will play,” Mullen said. “He always had the athleticism to play at a high level, but he’s refined his game to where he can play the point.
“He’s an outstanding midrange shooter, who really elevates on his J. He’s tough. He can get to the rim. He’s highly competitive and explosive.”
Allen was mostly a scorer in high school who led New Hanover to a 30-1 record in 2011-12. Angel said he finished one vote behind N.C. State-bound Rodney Purvis in voting for the Gatorade North Carolina Player of the Year award.
Angel said Allen’s game expanded at Hutchinson, where he attended in part because he did not qualify academically for a four-year school out of New Hanover, but was already versatile in high school.
That could translate well for an Arizona team that may need backup help at the point, or elsewhere, depending on early departures next spring.
“People ask me if he’s a shooting guard or a point guard,” Angel said. “This is what I tell them: He’s a basketball player. He can play point, can score, finishes around rim and his three-pointer is better.
“Defensively, he can be just a lockdown special player on that end of the floor – and that’s what surprised me, how much he loved playing defense. I used him in a ton of versatile roles. The kid’s a guard, a playmaker, his feel for the game is really good. He just makes plays.”
Not surprisingly, in an era where even the best recruits sometimes wait to see who’s leaving early in the spring before they arrive, Allen said he wasn’t too concerned with where he’ll end up playing at Arizona.
He just figures it will be somewhere.
“I like to play both (guard spots), really,” Allen said. “I like the ball in my hands and I can create. In high school, I played one through five. Last year I was off the ball but also on the ball. I just like controlling the game, really.”
Likewise, Allen said he didn’t care about where he landed in college, being a North Carolina kid who has never really watched Arizona or the Pac-12.
His actions are proof that geography doesn’t matter. Hutchinson is only 200 miles away from Lawrence, home of the Jayhawks, after all.
“It’s pretty hard to get a Kansas juco kid away from (the University of) Kansas — especially without visiting there,” Mullen said. “Kudos to Arizona for getting it done.”