One year after landing one of the best perimeter defenders in the 2012 class in Winston Shepard, San Diego State got even stronger in that regard with the verbal commitment of 2013 small forward Dakarai Allen.
Nephew of former Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Larry Allen, Dakarai committing to a school headed to the Big West next season is a big commitment for Steve Fisher’s program.
But that ultimately didn’t matter to neither Allen nor his family, and the end result is a Top 100 prospect heading to Montezuma Mesa.
“We don’t really care about that,” said Von Allen, Dakarai’s father and Larry’s brother. “We don’t get caught up in that. We just wanted my son to go a place where he can grow and thrive.”
From a skill standpoint Allen also said that he takes a lot from watching former San Diego State forward Kawhi Leonard, who developed into an All-American and a first round draft pick in his two seasons at SDSU.
But Allen sees himself more like another Aztec: Kawhi Leonard, the first-round draft choice (and rookie starter) of the San Antonio Spurs after two seasons at SDSU.
“Seeing what they did with Kawhi was a big influence,” said Allen, who doesn’t turn 18 until February and, based on doctors’ projections, expects to grow to 6-7. “I see myself trying to be just like him. I try to model my game after his.”
Allen, who attends Sheldon High in Elk Grove, California (just outside of Sacramento), joins a program that already has two Sacramento natives in junior guard Xavier Thames and senior guard Chase Tapley.
Tapley won’t be on campus in 2013 (neither will fellow seniors James Rahon and DeShawn Stephens) but when considering the talent that should be back, adding Allen means that San Diego State will have the pieces needed to remain in the national polls regardless of their conference affiliation.
Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.
After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.
Video credit: Wyoming Athletics
Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling
Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.
Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.
Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.
Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.
Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.
But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.