Jarrett Allen Has Big Hopes For Nike Hoop Summit
|Get Nike Hoop Summit tickets: bit.ly/NHXtix|
The honor of being one of 12 players to suit up for USA Basketball in the 2016 Nike Hoop Summit is not lost on 6-foot-10 forward/center Jarrett Allen (Saint Stephen’s Episcopal H.S./Austin, Texas).
Allen and his teammates on the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Select Team, which includes some of the best U.S. high school seniors from the United States, will take on a World Select Team that is comprised of top international players who are 19 years old or younger in the 19th annual Nike Hoop Summit live on ESPN2 at 12 p.m. PDT on Saturday, April 9, at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon.
“It means a lot to be selected as one of 12 from almost a million kids in the country,” Allen said. “So, it’s special.”
Though the Nike Hoop Summit will be Allen’s first game in a USA Basketball jersey, it will not be his first USA Basketball experience. This past October, Allen took part in the 2015 USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team minicamp.
“You get to play against some of the best people in the nation,” Allen said of USA Basketball minicamp. “A lot of times you don’t get that type of talent one place.
“At first it made me nervous, because I had never really played against competition like that,” he admitted. “But, after about the first day, you get used to the competition. It gave me a lot of confidence.”
Minicamp propelled Allen right into his regular season at Saint Stephen’s Episcopal High School in Austin, Texas. In his final prep campaign, he helped his team to a 26-5 record and a second straight Southwest Preparatory Conference state championship.
“I didn’t really set any goals for my senior year – just have the best senior year I could have and have fun,” Allen said. “I think I accomplished that.”
Allen is one of nine U.S. players who spent most of the past week in Chicago taking part in the 2016 McDonald’s All-America Game. He finished with nine points, six rebounds and five blocked shots to help the West team to a 114-107 win.
“From the McDonald’s All-America Game, I feel like I got a lot closer to them,” Allen said of his U.S. teammates. “I feel a lot more comfortable with them. I think that will help a lot with team chemistry.”
For the Nike Hoop Summit, Allen is clear about what he hopes to contribute to the USA’s effort.
“I think I will be able to run the court very well for a big man,” he said. “I’m going to try and block a lot of shots and get a couple hook shots.”
Beyond the Nike Hoop Summit, however, Allen still has not decided where he will attend and play college basketball in 2016-17.
“I have a list of six (finalists),” he explained, “Kansas, Kentucky, Notre Dame, UNC, UT (Texas) and University of Houston.
“What is important is the connection that I will have with the head coach and their development and how they play their freshman.”
And while he is happy to have opportunities in his future, he will miss some of what he has known for the past few years.
“I’m happy that I’m going to be moving on, but there is going to be some stuff that I’m going to miss.” Allen explained. “Like, I’m going to have regain team chemistry and make new friends and all that on the basketball team.”
While he weighs his options, Allen has been honing his skill set.
“I definitely want to expand my game from being a back-to-the-basket player to a more of a mid-range guy, try to move from a five man to a four man.
“Normally, I work out probably three times a week – more hard work outs, and I shoot almost every day. More mid-range shots and some corner 3s.”
His motivation to be in the gym is simply to be able to take advantage of his opportunities.
“I just want to be the best player that I can be,” Allen said. “I don’t know where that is going to lead me, but being the best player I can be can’t hurt my goals.”
Through all of his dedication, Allen has not lost his love for the game.
“It’s fun to me,” Allen said when asked what he love about basketball. “All the games, playing against better people, trying to show what I did in practice and bring that into games. It’s fun.”
He also has not lost perspective on how to balance the demands on his time.
“Don’t let basketball consume your life,” he said. “There are more important things, like your family and friends and being a kid right now.”
On April 9, however, one thing will be on his mind, and that will be helping USA Basketball to earn a win in the 2016 Nike Hoop Summit.
“For most of my high school career, I’ve always wanted to represent my country,” said Allen. “To finally do that means the world to me.”
Don’t miss Allen and his USA teammates in the 2016 Nike Hoop Summit and get your tickets now: bit.ly/NHXtix.