The Future Looks Bright For Tony Allen

By Stephen Alford
Updated: February 23, 2005

BOSTON, MA.—It seems as if Tony Allen’s skills were made for all-star and big stage games. Some of us basketball junkies remember watching T Allen when he played at Oklahoma State, when he led the Cowboys to a Final Four appearance in the 2004 NCAA Tournament. He was right in the thick of things and seemed to be involved in every big Cowboy play as Oklahoma State lost a 67-65 nail biter to Georgia Tech – a game where Allen was able to score 13 points and dish out four assists despite being in foul trouble throughout the game. In a 64-62 Final Eight victory over a St. Joe’s team that was led by Delonte West (now a teammate of Allen) and Jameer Nelson, T Allen connected on 6 out of 11 field goals, grabbed six rebounds, dished out five assists, had two steals, and added three blocks. And some of us watched when he lit up Pittsburgh for 23 points, seven rebounds, two steals, and three blocks in a Sweet-16 win in the same tournament. So it should come as no surprise to those who have followed his young career to see how easily the 25th pick in the 2004 NBA draft has transitioned his college game to the pro level as quick as he has. After all, the Chi-town native was named Big 12 Player of the Year and earned Honorable Mention All-American honors by the Associated Press at the end of his senior year; he became the first player in Oklahoma State history to surpass the 1,000-career point mark in only two seasons; and he averaged 14.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.1 steals in 10 Summer League games (Orlando Pepsi Pro Summer League & Las Vegas Reebok Summer League).

In the 2005 Got Milk Rookie Challenge this past Friday, Allen added another chapter to his young legacy when he was named a starter for the Rookie team.

He was the first of many dunkers when received a baseline feed from Philadelphia’s Andre Iguodala (2-3 Sophomores). Then minutes later, after Devin Harris missed an easy reverse layup, Allen followed in from the backcourt, leapt in the air, grabbed the carom with his right hand, and emphatically slammed home his fourth point to give the Rookies a 6-5 edge.

These are the type of plays that the rookie sensation has displayed all season with the Boston Celtics. Following a 108-103 New Year’s Eve victory over the Washington Wizards, a game where Allen showed more highlight reel type athleticism when he flew through the air and followed up a Ricky Davis miss with a dynamic two-handed slam, Celtics coach Doc Rivers explained, “He’s always going to give you a highlight play. That’s what he does. But what he also does is give you great defense and great athleticism.”

He showed some of that great defense and athleticism when he stole a Luke Ridnour pass (Allen’s 2nd steal of the game) and dribbled the length of the court for a windmill dunk – one that was comparable to the one Iguodala made just a play earlier. This made field goal was not only his sixth point of the half, but also his third dunk of the game (43-37). He later gave the young rooks an eight point cushion over the sophomore squad when he recorded his fourth dunk of the game (50-42) from an isolation play on Chicago’s Kirk Hinrich. Allen spun in the post, easily maneuvered around Hinrich, and two-handed a baseline move with 4:04 still to play in the half.

Granted, Allen’s outside shot was missing throughout the entire game. But instead of trying to find his range, he continued to attack the rim in the second half of the Rookie Challenge. Devin Harris’ pretty lob resulted in Allen yoking home his tenth point (fifth dunk of the game if your keeping count) to give the first year kids a 66-62 lead with 18:46 remaining. But by the time T Allen yoked his 15th point of the game – when he drove left from the right on Philly’s Kyle Korver – the Sophs had gone on a 38-20 run with 8:58 left in the game and were comfortably ahead 100-86. He made his last field goal, his 17th point, when he converted a nifty scoop to pull the Rookies to within 12 (90-102) with 7:34 left in the game. The Sophomores went on to defeat the Rookies 133-106 but Tony Allen had established himself as an elite player in the 2004-05 rookie class.

Doc Rivers once predicted, “Tony, I believe, is going to be a hell of a player. Easily. I mean for a long time. I think you can see little stretches of it. When he gets the ability to put those together, I believe he’s going to be special player. I do.”

After Friday’s Rookie Challenge, I’m sure a lot of other basketball junkies are now thinking the same thing as Doc.