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Cougs pick up rumored guard as a walk-on

Posted by Jeff Nusser on May 26, 2008

I know most of you don’t normally come here for breaking news reporting, but it just so happens you’re getting some from this intrepid reporter on this beautiful Memorial Day.

About a week and a half ago, a rumor started circulating that the Cougs were showing an unknown guard around campus.

That unknown guard turned out to be John Allen of Mountlake Terrace High School, and it also turns out that he has decided to attend WSU as a walk-on, according to his former coach at Mountlake Terrace High School.

“John choose WSU over (Western Washington) and will be an invited walk-on for next year’s team and competing for a spot in the rotation,” MTHS head coach Nalin Sood said via e-mail. “Coug coach Ben Johnson was the main recruiter of John and has promised him one thing: The opportunity to compete.

The candor and honesty that Ben presented during this entire proceess was exceptional and proved to me that they are different and do things the right way. No false promises or guarantees; just that they like John, they think he has the skills to help them out, but he has to step up and prove it on the court.”

Allen’s route to WSU has been a crazy one. The 6-foot-1 guard started out at Shorewood High School but transferred to Mountlake Terrace for his junior year, where he was a second-team all-Wesco South selection after averaging 16 points — including a career high and school record 39 in one game. He headed into his senior season as a two-star rated guard by Scout.com.

But then the wheels came off. According to a source at the school, Allen had earlier repeated the eighth grade and in the eyes of the WIAA had exhausted his high school eligibility. Subsequent appeals were rejected, and Allen dropped off the high school basketball scene — and the recruiting map. My source said Allen didn’t get the support of the Edmonds School District athletic department. Allen continued to play AAU ball, but drew little interest from schools.

So, what kind of a player are the Cougs getting? Could he really compete for a spot in the rotation as a walk-on freshman?

My source — who’s been around the school for a long time, has watched a lot of basketball and is not normally given to hyperbole — used a lot of hyperbolic language in describing Allen, saying he’s among the best shooting guards he’s seen at the high school level and that Allen’s the best player he’s seen at Mountlake Terrace.

Now, as an alum, I can tell you that MTHS hasn’t exactly been a Division I basketball factory, but that last statement includes Seamus Boxley, who led the Hawks to a 20-0 regular season and No. 1 state ranking in 2000, went on to be a four-year starter and two-time defensive player of the year at Portland State, and is now playing professionally in Germany. High praise indeed.

Sood said Allen “can do things that one cannot teach. He is good, but he must get the cerebral part of the game down and a full understanding of the WSU system offensively and defensively. Like all their players, it will be between the ears and not the arms and legs for him to get minutes.”

And that last part resonates the most true. Everyone knows the kind of talent that is coming in with this recruiting class, but as Thomas Abercrombie proved, there is a heck of a lot more to contributing at WSU than just being physically talented. However, there is a well-documented need on this team for a back-up point guard. There is some thought that either Michael Harthun or Klay Thompson can pull it off for the few minutes a game when Taylor Rochestie is not on the floor, but neither even pretends to be a point guard.

If Allen can learn the systems quickly, proves he can play defense and shows he can take care of the basketball, he might get a few minutes spelling Rochestie.

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6 Responses to “Cougs pick up rumored guard as a walk-on”

  1. Coug1990 said

    What is impressive about this is the basketball staff really turns over every stone when it comes to recruiting. He doesn’t play his senior year and fell off the map, except to WSU who didn’t forget him. We shall see if Allen is PAC 10 Material or not, but he seems like he could be the ultimate sleeper recruit.

  2. Phil said

    On John Allen….. The key word Scout.com used to describe Allen was “quickster” and this near rave review of Allen’s play came against none other than John Wall (2009), Scout’s #1 rated point guard for next year’s class, and who is being recruited by Kansas, Memphis, Ohio State and about a dozen other high major schools. Allen distinguished himself against Wall, one of the top young players in the country!
    John missed his senior year of high school ball and that could be an issue in terms of his development. Sure, he played AAU ball during the off season, but AAU ball is so much more free-wheeling and less structured than most high school basketball programs. Will John Allen have trouble making the adjustment to play to his true potential within the WSU system?
    I recall one all-time great player having missed a year of high school ball, but I think it was his junior year. His name was Jerry West, and he missed a season due to a broken arm. Yet, West healed up, went on to West Virginia Univ. and led the Mountaineers to the Final Four.
    So, like West, John Allen will be highly motivated to make up for lost time, to prove himself, overcome the obstacles, turn lemons into lemonade, etc. — which is a good thing, nicht wahr? Here’s hoping he is the ideal Bennett protegĂ©.

  3. dgiles said

    As a student at Mountlake Terrace High School and a friend of Johns, I think it’s going to be very exciting for all of us at Terrace to see how his situation works out. We’re all cheering for him and whether he gets minutes or not, watching him at the Pac-10 level is going to be quite the story around here.

  4. Eric said

    Why would someone who repeated a grade before high school lose his eligibility to play a sport in high school? That seems idiotic to me. And no surprise that the school district didn’t try to help him out — why would the ESD do something to actually benefit a student in its care and break their streak now?

  5. ChristianK said

    A little off topic, but why in the world would Kyle Weaver skip nba draft workouts? He needs the exposure…can anyone explain this to me?

  6. Phil said

    Having had my own run-ins with the Edmonds School system in my youth, I am not surprised upon hearing how their hard-headed unyieldingness potentially stood in the way of a boy’s development.
    For the sake of a lame rule–a technicality–they lost sight of what should have been their objective, which is allowing children to develop to their maximum potential within the system. A boy with the obvious kinesthetic intelligence that John possesses is thus, for one year, deprived of his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity-the senior season at Mountlake Terrace.
    I have never forgotten my mistreatment, and that was nearly 50 years ago. I like to think that this did not hurt me in the long run, and I am confident John will flourish at Washington State.

    As for Kyle Weaver… Vince Grippi describes the reasons given in his article for the Spokesman-Review. Kyle will be “auditioning” privately for no fewer than 18 NBA teams between now and the draft. If he played with those 64 guys in Orlando, as he is currently a borderline 1st rounder, he risks hurting his draft position. Making the 1st round is the objective, and you want all eyes focused on you as would happen during the individual workout, rather than sharing the limelight with 64 other somewhat desperate aspiring NBAers in Orlando. So he is going the same route as Derrick Low.

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