Returning a lot of their talent from last season while also adding a star-studded recruiting class the Gators are looking towards a deep run in March but that isn’t to say the team isn’t without it’s holes. Without much depth at the 3 and 4 spots and with the starting 5 spot an open competition the final scholarship that Florida has remaining could definitely be used to round out the roster.
One player with a lot of intrigue is 6’9” Andre Allen, a JUCO talent who wowed basketball fans in the west with a fluid athleticism and underrated passing ability. His mix of length and athleticism allows him to play multiple positions, something I’m sure Florida’s staff sees the potential in. He’s a rare athlete that is both smooth and explosive, possessing the ability to glide around the defense end and switch onto any player on the floor while also having the power to elevate over taller centers and finish with force. Already with over 50 offers and more to come Allen’s services are heavily sought after but if the Gators could land him he could be the missing piece for a roster that has tons of talent but not a lot of versatility.
EF: Thanks so much for doing this Andre! First of can you tell everyone where you’re from and where you’re playing now?
AA: I’m from Los Angeles, California and I just wrapped up my sophomore year at Arizona Western College in Yuma.
EF: What was your recruitment process like out of high school and what led you to Arizona Western?
AA: I sucked in high school, my senior year I started to come into my own and realize that work ethic puts you in a different space than your peers. I didn’t have any offers coming out of high school so I went junior college and really blew up.
EF: (laughs) You actually sucked? When did you first start playing basketball?
AA: Yeah, I wasn’t a good player. I’m a late bloomer, I got really good at about 18, everything just came together exactly how I needed it to. I’ve been playing since I was a youth, 12 or 13, but I played all sports. Baseball, football, soccer, everything. I’ve never not been the best athlete on my team, ever.
EF: You’ve got a lot of great offers including multiple from high major conferences, including of course Florida. When you D1 do you still expect to be the best athlete on whatever team you go to?
AA: I don’t know (laughs). I just know the work I put in and I’m confident in my capabilities as a player.
EF: (laughs) I thought I’d give you the chance to flex. What do you think your biggest strengths are?
AA: The best players are typically playmakers, guys who impact the game based on what the defense gives them. My biggest strength is my playmaking ability and my IQ mixed with athleticism.
EF: At your size and with your foot speed you have the ability to play multiple positions. Is there a particular position you’re more comfortable at or one you think you’ll be better at once you’re in division 1?
AA: I can honestly say besides the point guard spot I can play any position on the floor. I’m most comfortable at the 3 or 4 but I can guard bigger 5’s and guards.
EF: That versatility is a large part of the reason you’re so heavily recruited and I’m sure it’s a big part of the reason Florida got in touch. When did they first contact you and what did they have to say?
AA: They expressed the need for my position, Coach White also reached out… they studied my film for a couple weeks, it was a real good mutual conversation about the program. Me and Pinkins have been talking a lot of hoops, almost every other day he calls me.
EF: You’re going to have a tough decision on your hands with the amount of offers you have. What factors are you thinking of the most in your decision?
AA: Primary thing would be am I going to compete and contribute to a National Championship. All I want to do is win and play at the highest level possible.
EF: You have a smooth jumper in the midrange but haven’t been a consistent 3-point shooter as of yet. Do you think you’ll be stretching your range in your next 2 years of eligibility or more focus on what you can do in the paint?
AA: Almost every three-point shot I took this year was with under 5 seconds on the clock. Prior to the reason I asked my coach what I can do to make us the most successful, he said dominate the paint and that’s exactly what I did. We have one of the best shooters in the country on our team in addition to our point guard who shot 43% from three. I was also the tallest on my team, so I focused on the paint all year. All my threes were forces, and the ones that weren’t I shot close to 30-something percent I believe.
EF: That is interesting insight and makes a lot of sense. What will you be working on this summer to improve your game? Any one thing in particular?
AA: There will always be room for improvement in my game, I believe that. I think the things I need to focus on primarily are my left hand and using 100% of my athleticism when making my moves.
EF: I guess every player can always get their off hand better (laughs). I caught you when you just got into Dallas this weekend for an event for the top unsigned JUCO players. What are you hoping to accomplish there?
AA: That I’m the best unsigned big in junior college basketball and it’s not close.
EF: I’m sure you’ll be a force, thank you for doing this!