ALACHUA — It only took three minutes for Adam Allen to show the packed house at Santa Fe High School that he’s got game and plenty of it. He spun out of a double team for an easy two, knocked down a three from the top of the key, outmuscled three opponents for a rebound, threaded the needle with a pass on the break for an easy layup for one of his teammates and he blocked a shot.
And that was just the first three minutes.
By the time Allen went to the bench with 5:38 remaining in the game, the Santa Fe Raiders had seen all they wanted of Adam Allen. He finished the night with 22 points, 12 rebounds, six blocked shots, three assists and a steal to help Milton advance to the state 4A quarterfinals with an impressive 70-38 win. Milton faces East Gadsen Saturday night in Havana with the winner earning a trip to the Class 4A Final Four in Lakeland.
Allen only took 14 shots in the game. He was 6-8 on two-pointers, 3-6 on threes. He drained a couple of three-balls early in the fourth quarter on consecutive possessions before he went to the bench to watch his teammates finish the job.
With Allen leading the way, Milton (27-3) got off to a fast start. An 11-3 lead in the first three minutes expanded to 31-7 early in the second quarter. At that point the Raiders made their only run of the game, closing to 33-20 at the half and cutting it to 12, 35-23, in the opening minute of the third quarter. That’s when Allen permanently altered the momentum of the game with a couple of blocked shots on the defensive end and a dunk and a spinning five-foot jumper on the offensive end as part of an 8-0 spurt that ended any hope Santa Fe had of pulling off the upset.
“We’re one game away from the Final Four and three games away from a state championship,” said Allen, whose 6-7 frame has begun to fill out. He’s 210 pounds now and there’s still room for more muscle. “After last year (Milton lost in the championship game to Sarasota Booker) we feel there’s some unfinished business that we’d really like to take care of, but we have to take it a game at a time and we’ve got a game to win Saturday.”
Allen committed to Florida back in June, a bit of a surprise because it was expected that he would follow in his father’s footsteps. Randy Allen is one of the greatest players in Florida State history, a tough as nails 6-7 forward who scored 1,438 points and twice made All-Metro Conference in his career before moving on to the NBA.
“It was his choice all the way,” said Randy Allen after Tuesday night’s game. “We wanted him to go to the place he felt he fit in best and he felt that was Florida. We’re happy for him and we think he’ll be playing for a great coach in Coach (Billy) Donovan.”
Adam says he thought Florida was the right choice all along, but when he visited Gainesville, he knew this was where he wanted to go to school.
“I love everything about Gainesville,” he said. “It’s the right combination of everything for me … the basketball, the academics, the town, the atmosphere … everything I was looking for was there. I can’t wait to get there and start playing for Coach Donovan.”
In the time since he committed to the Gators, he’s spent plenty of time in the weight room and he’s worked on several phases of his game that he wanted to strengthen before moving on to the next level. The added strength shows particularly in the rebounding department. He gets good position and has the strength to box out opponents, plus his hands are so strong now that once he gets them on the ball, he rarely loses it.
“I think I’m a smarter player, too,” he said. “I’ve learned more about when to block a shot and I’m trying to be smart about it so I can stay out of foul trouble. I can’t help my team if I’m on the bench. I think I’ve improved in following the ball after it’s shot so I can get good position to rebound. I think that once I get my hands on the ball, it’s pretty much mine now. All those things I think are improvements over last year. I also wanted to be a more efficient offensive player and take better shots and know when to pass the ball. I think that’s another area I’ve improved.”
At Florida he will project initially as a small forward but associate head coach Donnie Jones says Allen is versatile enough that he will be a true three-position player at the college level.
“He’s such a good ball handler and he’s got such good range on his outside shot that we’ll use him as a two sometimes and he’s going to add some more weight so he will be able to play in the post, too,” said Jones. “He’s already got good post moves and skills. He’s a legitimate three-position guy.”
Donovan, who hustled up I-75 to catch the tail end of the game Tuesday night after practice ended, likes the way that Allen fits in with the framework of his team. Easily, Allen is the best player on a very good Milton team, but he doesn’t hog the ball and he spends as much time setting up teammates as he does looking for his own shot.
“He’s very unselfish and team-oriented,” said Donovan, who can clinch the SEC championship Wednesday night when the Gators host South Carolina at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. “He does what he needs to do to help his team win the game and I don’t think he ever worries about his stat line although you can tell after each game just looking at the box score that he affects a game in so many ways. What we like about him so much is that he’s not a one-dimensional kid. He can shoot, he can pass, he can rebound and he knows how to play tough defense.”
The multi-dimensional talents are why Randy Allen was such an outstanding player when he played for FSU. He’s spent plenty of time in the back yard and in the gym with Adam, making sure there is no weak phase to his game.
“He’s a hard worker,” said Randy. “I know I’m partial, but I think he’s a real coachable kid that can do a lot of things to help a team win a game. He wants to get better in everything. He’s a really good shooter but he wants to be just as good in everything else when he’s out there. He’s a good team player, too, so I think he will fit in just fine with the way Coach Donovan does things.”
Allen will be part of a Florida recruiting class that is certain to finish in the top five and could rank number one in the nation if the Gators land Huntington, West Virginia’s 6-9, 240-pound power forward Patrick Patterson. Already the Gators have Allen, 6-6 Nick Calathes, 6-9 Chandler Parsons and 6-9 Alex Tyus signed to scholarships.
“I can’t wait to play with Nick, Chandler and Alex,” said Allen, who said he talks to Calathes on a regular basis. “I’ve been talking some to Patrick some. I try to let him know that he’s the guy we need to complete this class and make it the best in the country. I like our chances of getting him. I think we could be really, really good the next four years.”