A late bloomer who burst onto the national landscape in the spring and summer prior to his high school senior year, Jarrett Allen came into Texas as a highly regarded prospect (#18 RSCI) fresh off a gold medal with USA Basketball at the U18 FIBA Americas Championship.
Texas as a whole had a very disappointing season, going just 4-14 in Big 12 play and 11-22 overall. Allen struggled early, but found his footing as the year moved on, eventually being named to the Big 12's All-Rookie and All-Conference Third Team, in large part thanks to a very strong month of February in which he averaged 18 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 35 minutes through eight contests.
A large part of the appeal with Allen surrounds his physical profile. Despite standing just 6'9 without shoes, a hair short for a center, he has a tremendous 7'5 ¼ wingspan, a 9'1 ½ standing reach, gigantic hands, and a 234 pound frame that will fill out nicely in time.
Allen saw quite a few touches in the post for a Texas offense that struggled mightily to space the floor effectively as one of the worst perimeter shooting teams in all of college basketball. He was curiously utilized mostly at the power forward position alongside another non-shooting big man, a situation that he'll likely never encounter again at any point in his career. That certainly didn't help open things up on a team that lacked experience, ball-movement and basketball IQ in a major way.
Nevertheless, Allen flashed outstanding potential all season as a rim-runner and pick and roll finisher. His long strides, solid agility and excellent hands allow him to cover ground and present himself to his guards for easy looks. He converted 68% of his attempts around the basket this season, some of them in highly creative fashion, in part due to the elite extension he gets around the rim due to his length, giving him more angles to work with than most players his size.
Operating with his back to the basket, Allen can palm the ball like a grapefruit, and has good footwork to go along with soft touch. He is capable of finishing with nifty hook shots and up and unders using either hand, sometimes after connecting a series of post moves together with impressive spin moves and body control.
Facing the basket, Allen is largely unpolished, but shows flashes of potential that hint at things to come down the road. He can straight line drive from the high post using his long strides, and showed glimpses of being able to knock down a mid-range jumper with solid shooting mechanics, rotation and touch.
With that said, Allen has a long ways to go before he can be expected to put it all together and become a consistent scoring option at the NBA level. He lacks strength in a major way, and doesn't bring the type of nasty attitude you'd like to see to compensate, setting soft screens, being weak with the ball, and struggling to finish in traffic through contact. He's not overly explosive off two feet, needing time to gather himself for finishes, and relying heavily on his length to bail him out. He doesn't always work hard enough to establish deep post position due to his lack of bulk and toughness, and isn't overly decisive with his moves once he does make catches, showing just an average feel for reading the help-side defense.
Allen's basketball IQ is a work in progress, as evidenced by his -6.31 PPR, which ranks second worst among all players projected to get drafted. He lacks polish with his perimeter skill-set as well, making just 56% of his free throw attempts on the season, and 24/68 of his jump-shots. At this stage of his career, he's at his best finishing plays created for him by others.
With all that in mind, it's unlikely that Allen develops into a prolific scorer early on his career, as he'll undoubtedly need time to polish his skill-set, fill out his frame, and find consistency in his ability to put the ball in the basket from both the perimeter and interior. That will make his work on the defensive end especially important.
Allen's tremendous combination of length, reach, agility and ability to get off the floor quickly give him a great framework to build off. He has quick feet as well, being capable of sliding on the perimeter in small doses, covering ground and staying in front of opponents.
With that said, he needs to improve his technique, experience level and mentality to become more consistent in this area, as he mostly shows flashes at this stage, being far from solid on a possession to possession basis. His lack of bulk causes him to get sealed off in the post by stronger big men, and he doesn't always show the type of fight you want to see in terms of his ability to get take contact, with older players often going straight through him en route to the basket. He's also not really the type of rim protector you might hope considering his reach, at just 2 blocks per-40 minutes.
On the perimeter, Allen often looks hunched over in his stance, being somewhat slow to change directions on the fly, and not having the quickest-twitch moving his feet on switches. His awareness leaves something to be desired as well, as you'll often see him losing his focus, getting spun around, and show just an average understanding of team concepts or opposing team personnel. NBA teams will want to see him bring a more cerebral approach, as well as a higher level of intensity, as he tends to jog the court at times lackadaisically.
This manifests itself most vividly on the glass, where his 6.9 defensive rebounds per-40 minutes is just a decent rate. He relies heavily on his tools here, rarely boxing out, not throwing his body around, and not always showing the highest motor attacking loose balls. The fact that he played so many minutes at the certainly limited his opportunities here, and he does show some potential with his big hands and long arms, as evidenced by his solid work on the offensive glass.
Allen has considerable tools to work with, having the type of length, agility, frame, hands, and budding skill you love to see in a developing big man. With that said, he's clearly a project on both ends of the floor, and there are major question marks about what he will be able to hang his hat on at the NBA level early on in his career. Improving his feel for the game and maximizing his intensity level will be major keys in Allen reaching his full potential, and he'll need to land somewhere with a great development staff and plenty of patience.