One of the players with the highest expectations on him this season will be KeVaughn Allen, the Gators’ shooting guard from Little Rock, Arkansas that has played more minutes in a Gator uniform than any of the other seniors. Starting in 99 of his 106 games for Florida he’s as experienced a player as you can have and he could easily be considered one of the most important players on the roster for his contributions on both the defensive and offensive sides of the basketball. Though his junior year may have been his least productive from a statistical standpoint, trying times off the court throughout the season with multiple close family members made it impressive that he was even able to lace them up for every game. With some of the struggles his family was going through now behind him, he’ll be playing inspired basketball for them his final year for the Gators. Here is how Allen’s last season went and what we can expect from him this final year.
11.0 Points Per Game
2.4 Rebounds Per Game
2.4 Assists Per Game
1.0 Steals Per Game
0.5 Blocks Per Game
1.3 Turnovers Per Game
.328 3-Point Percentage
.336 Field Goal Percentage
.906 Free Throw Percentage
Powerfully built at 6’2” and 195 pounds, Allen uses his explosiveness to quickly close out to defenders and his low center of gravity to leverage bigger players when they try to bump him while driving by. Extremely quick to the ball when it’s passed to his man his ability to close out with speed but also under control made it tough to blow by him on the catch. His tenacity also showed when his man was running pick and roll as Allen would power through screens to stay stuck to his man and the impact from Allen hitting the screen as he tirelessly fought through left many opposing big men with sore ribs.
Looking up and down the analytics they all match the eye test and they all point to the fact he is one of the Gators’ most impactful defensive players with his work on the perimeter. Whether it’s defending drives or contesting jump shooters his numbers look great, and he’s even excellent at not committing fouls. It’s tough to play great defense without fouling the way the game is officiated now but Allen did just that averaging only 1.8 fouls committed per 40 minutes, an absurd number that has always kept in on the floor when Coach White needed him.
Allen’s relentless effort on defense had him guarding the other team’s best perimeter player nearly every moment Allen was on the floor and I think that may have had an impact on the other side of the floor, which we’ll talk about later. With Chiozza being a pretty small point guard, Allen would check some of the bigger points the Gators faced while allowing Chiozza to guard off the ball. Jalen Hudson and Deaundrae Ballard weren’t always locked in on the wing defensively so Allen often was tasked with guarding bigger wings too. With the team adding some size in the backcourt with Andrew Nembhard and some toughness on the wing in Keyontae Johnson I think we could see Allen get some easier defensive assignments which could really help his game. Not that I don’t think he can handle tough assignments, but just from a fatigue standpoint I think it could be positive.
Where I think those easier defensive matchups could play dividends is when he has more energy to contribute on the offensive end. Last year the shooting efficiency numbers for Allen weren’t stellar as his 32.8% 3-point stroke is well below the national average and his 33.6% field goal percentage doesn’t look much better.
Let’s start with the jump shooting. When you start to take a look at the shots he took last year you can actually see why his shooting percentages might be a bit misleading. When the shot clock wound down for the Gators, which it did a lot more last season than Mike White would ever want, Allen was almost always the guy tasked with generating some semblance of an open shot with less than 4 seconds left. Chiozza was a great point guard but shot creation was not one of his strong points and with Egor Koulechov and Keith Stone, two other guys not great at shot creation, often on a line with him, it was Allen left to get whatever space he could to heave up a prayer. With 6.3% of his shot attempts coming with less than 4 seconds on the shot clock, you can probably assume those 6.3% of shots were not good lucks but ones he had to throw at the rim anyways. Putting up 2 or 3 of those desperation looks a game doesn’t help your shooting numbers and it seems like Allen’s shooting percentages were a victim of what was at times a slow Florida offense. 33.1% of his total shots came off the dribble, a really high amount that shows how much he was relied on to generate offense when nothing came out of the regular offensive flow. When he did get open jump shots, only 37.6% of his jump shots as opposed to the 62.4% that were guarded, he actually knocked them down at 43.8%. If the Gators’ offense flows a little bit better this year and Allen gets more open shots he could really improve on the 32.8% 3-point marker this season.
I wanted to find out what could have caused Allen’s 33.6% from the field as that number is quite concerning, and after some digging the answer became fairly apparent.
He really struggles to finish at the rim.
Whereas most players average slightly above 50% shooting at the rim, helping to boost their field goal percentage, Allen only averaged 35.9%. When you’re shooting that number on what should be your highest efficiency shot it’s really hard to have a good field goal percentage. Given his strength and leaping ability you’d think he’d feast at the rim when for some reason that really isn’t the case. You also might think those physical gifts would allow him to thrive in transition but that’s another area he struggled in as he only shot 31.1% in that category, another one where the national average is fairly high, around 45%. With his struggles near the rim and in transition there really just weren’t easy buckets to be had for Allen and it meant his percentages suffered.
These poor numbers warranted some film review so I went back to see how Allen was missing shots at the rim and in transition.
To be honest…there wasn’t any big trends I picked up on. There weren’t any fundamental errors he was making and it wasn’t like he was shying away from contact or fearing getting fouled (where he would likely convert given his incredible 90.6% from the stripe). When he got to the rim it just didn’t seem like he always had the touch, sometimes putting the ball on the glass too hard or putting a bit too much spin on it that caused the ball to spill out of the cup. Could it have just been a confidence issue?
Here’s where my fatigue theory comes in. As I mentioned before, Allen was a tireless defender and was always tasked with a difficult assignment. Playing over 31 minutes a game, that’s a lot of wear. Was he going to allow that fatigue to impact his defensive game? Absolutely not. So where is going to suffer? The offensive end, and where could that manifest it most? Well, pretty much anywhere. As we saw before, he wasn’t a great shooter last year and as anyone who plays pick-up basketball knows, if your legs aren’t there your jump shot is going to suffer. Another area tired legs would really affect you? In transition when you’re sprinting at full speed. How about the most explosive part of the game, finishing at the rim? I’m sure being fatigued didn’t help Allen when it came to attacking the rim and finishing. This is super anecdotal and I can’t back it up with any numbers but I really think fatigue from working so hard defensively made his offensive game suffer and with the Gators having more defensive options on the perimeter this year I think we could see better offense out of a better-rested Allen.
I think Allen is going to lead the team in minutes, start and finish every game, and generally be one of the most important players. Though I think he still might take a back seat to Jalen Hudson, Keith Stone, and Andrew Nembhard on offense at times his defensive excellence will be extremely valuable for the Gators to win some ball games. One of the most popular Gators due to his work ethic the last three years in Gainesville, I expect him to go out with a fantastic senior season.