November 9, 2007: That was the first glimpse. The Hokies had just lost three stars in Dowdell, Gordon, and Collins. D-Wash and A.D. were back, but it was one particular freshman that caught my eye. I remember sitting in the rafters of Cassell watching this gigantic blur go up and down the court. He could steal the ball, he could dribble, he could dunk, shoot from 3-point range, heck, he could jump tall buildings in a single bound! My description from that night pretty much showed how impressed I was…
“Jeff Allen (Grade: A-) I’m not going to anoint him the best Hokie forward since Ace Custis just yet, but… Jeff Allen was the most impressive freshman of the four that played tonight. He was a beast on the boards. He was a force on offense, including a three-pointer. His only glitch was that he was beaten in the low post a couple of times in the first half and gave up some easy hoops. But after that, he showed his shot blocking presence with two or three blocks. Allen had a double-double, chipping in 10 rebounds. Allen has quick hands on defense and had a couple of steals. He really has no weakness in his game from what I saw tonight.Just needs to be a bit better on D; fronting guys may not work for him since he is a little short. But man was he impressive and has a WIDE body. Very aggressive on offense with good low post moves, even with his back to the basket (something the Hokies haven’t had much of lately). Jeff (Fr) led the Hokies with 19 points, including 13 in the first half.“
Why? Over the last four seasons, the operative word has been: “Why?” That’s the question many Hokie fans have asked when talking about Jeff Allen. In years past, or even earlier this year, it was, “Why is he so inconsistent,” or, “Why does he commit so many dumb fouls,” or, “Why does his effort seem to fluctuate?” And now the big question is, “Why hasn’t he played like this for four years?!”
But let me ask this: if he had played like he has the last month, would he still be here? Or would he be playing professionally, either in the NBA or abroad (or the D-League)? He’s a bit undersized for a power forward in the NBA at just 6’7″ (probably 6’6″ at best). But Charles Barkley was only listed at 6’6″ in the NBA and he had a pretty darn successful career. I’m not saying Jeff Allen is the Round Mound of Rebound, but how many guys his size have his feet, his post moves, his ups, his ability to snare rebounds, his hands on defense, and now his midrange game? Answer: not many. I’m not sure he’ll get drafted, but he’ll get a very serious look this summer, and even if he’s cut, some GMs will be watching him closely to see how he adjusts to pro ball.
So perhaps we should be happy that, while inconsistent at times, we’ve gotten four very good years from Agent Zero. Just look at where he ranks on the all-time Virginia Tech lists:
- Scoring: 15th
- Rebounds: 4th
- Steals: 4th
- Blocks: 5th
All you can say, wow! How does he take so much crap with those lifetime numbers?
Reason #1 – Fouls: Well, I guess there’s the inconsistency and the fouls as I mentioned above. Jeff had fouled out 14 times in his career coming into this year and committed four fouls or more 47 times. In the first 11 games this year, he had fouled out five times and committed four fouls in four other games. That’s 9/11 where he was straddled with foul issues.
Reason #2 – Attitude: There are also the extracurricular activities, like the ‘birds’, the bumps, and the falls. Those things got him ejected from two games and suspended for three games.
Reason #3 – The ACC: This was the biggest issue to me. Jeff could be so dominant in out of conference games but struggle so much in ACC games. Part of this you can understand – the Ed Davis’s of the world are so much taller than Jeff, and so athletic, he was limited due to his height. You saw some of that in the unc game where he’d beat Beanpole Henson off the dribble, but Henson could use his go-go-gadget arms to block the shot from behind. But there would also be nights where he’d face guys that are his equal (Mike Scott) or beneath his skill, and he wouldn’t do a thing.
Look at his double-doubles out of conference versus in ACC regular season games coming into this year:
|YEAR||OOC||ACC REG SEASON/ TOURNEY|
Coming into this season, 61% of his double-doubles had been out of conference despite the fact about half the games were in conference. And Jeff had never totaled more than three double-doubles in the 16 ACC regular season games, so less than 20% of the games.
THE LIGHT SWITCH – 12/23/10: Who knows what caused the turnaround that we’ve seen the last few months, especially the last month of play. But to me it happened after December 23rd, 2010. The Hokies had just beaten st. bonaventure, but they had blown an almost 20-point lead and needed overtime. Jeff had fouled out for the fifth time that season. He had a good game with 18 points and 9 rebounds, but was only able to play 30 of the 45 minutes due to his foul trouble.
Since that game, has not fouled out. Zero disqualifications for #0. And he’s only gotten to four fouls four times in the last 13 games (30%). That’s well under the 50% average he had in his career up until that point, and the 81% average he had in the first 11 games this year.
And then there’s the real stats – rebounds and points. He’s averaging 15.2 ppg and snagged 11.2 rpg! He’s had nine double-doubles in that 13 game stretch.
In the last six games, Jeff has really exploded. He’s racked up six straight double-doubles and is averaging 19.5 ppg and 12.8 rpg! That gives him seven doubles in 11 conference games, four more than he had in any previous regular season.
Allen has a real shot to be first team ACC if he can keep up this pace. He’s 13th in the ACC in scoring and 2nd in rebounds, but if you look at just ACC games, Jeff’s 7th in scoring, 2nd in rebounds, and 5th in FG%. And the most shocking stat of all? He’s 6th in minutes per game in ACC play - a true indicator of how he’s stayed out of foul trouble.
Jeff’s offense has been unstoppable of late. He’s always had great moves near the hope with his back to the basket, using his up-and-under move or spin. But lately he’s been pounding opponents from 15-feet away. He’ll dribble once, do a deadly spin move that reminds me of Dominique Wilkins’s move, and lay it in. Or he can knock down that mid-range jumper he hasn’t in past years. Allen is also shooting 75% from the line in ACC games, more than 10 percentage points above his career average. The guy is just plain dirty.
So let’s quit whining about what might have been, and really enjoy the final month of the Big Donut. The man looks like Godzilla on the court right now, and the rest of the ACC are the people of Japan.