Kadeem Allen, an all-american guard for Hutchinson Community College the past two seasons, was named Junior College Player of the Year this week.
In two seasons at HCC, the 6-foot-3 Wilmington, N.C., native scored 1,425 points, averaging 25.9 points in the toughest NJCAA conference in the country. That was enough to pique the interest of Arizona head coach Sean Miller, who was able to get Allen signed and ready to enroll in Tucson next season.
Why is that relevant?
Because the biggest issue that Arizona had a season ago was their inability to create offense in half court sets. They were arguably the best defensive team in the country, even after Brandon Ashley was injured, but the only situation in which the Wildcats were consistently dangerous on the offensive end of the floor was in transition. And while Miller is bringing in yet another loaded recruiting class, headlined by top five recruit Stanley Johnson, he will once again have a team built around their defense but that is losing their best weapon in the half court: Nick Johnson.
That’s where Allen value is going to lie.
He may not end up starting for this group — my prediction on a starting lineup is that T.J. McConnell will be joined by Johnson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski — but even playing the role of hired gun off the bench will be critical.
We had Arizona as the preseason No. 1 team in the country with the assumption that they would be losing Johnson and Aaron Gordon, and while he may not get as much hype as some of the other members of the team, Allen is going to be one of the keys to Arizona’s 2015 bid for a national title.