When Florida secured the commitment of Arkansas guard KeVaughn Allen back in May, I wrote a long piece about how Allen's commitment was a bit of a surprise, given what was theoretically available for Billy Donovan on the recruiting trail, and about taking a wait-and-see approach to him.
Allen's performance at last week's Peach Jam was all I needed to see — well, read about and see — to be sure of this: He's going to be a stud for Florida.
Allen's Peach Jam mixtape begins with him putting Antonio Blakeney — five-star guard Antonio Blakeney, presumed Florida lock until he wasn't Antonio Blakeney, probably blue-blood school-bound Antonio Blakeney — on a poster. But even that highlight doesn't show the full extent of the sonning Allen gives Blakeney.
Going up against maybe the best shooting guard in the class of 2015, Allen simply picked his pocket and threw down some thunder on Blakeney — then turned and got back on defense.
That's a common signt in his mixtape, which shows his full arsenal of drives and perimeter shooting (and free throws?): Allen makes an offensive play, and, once it's done, simply turns and commits himself to defense. There is no flash, just ferocity.
But there was praise. Effusive praise.
I love watching Florida commit Kevaughn Allen. Has an even-keeled mentality, is fearless and makes shots. Billy Donovan will love Allen.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) July 21, 2014
Kevaughn Allen is cooking right now. Florida got themselves a really good player. Fun Peach Jam title game on ESPNU.— Raphielle Johnson (@raphiellej) July 20, 2014
Kevaughn Allen (@K5allen1) having an unbelievable half. Showing off his range and athleticism. Great pickup for Billy Donovan and Florida.— Recruiting Roundup (@RecruitRoundup) July 20, 2014
There goes that damn KeVaughn Allen again. My goodness he's good.— L. Jason Smith (@TheCAJasonSmith) July 20, 2014
Ladies and gentlemen, KEVAUGHN ALLEN— The EYBL Circuit (@D1Circuit) July 20, 2014
KeVaughn Allen has 8 points in 2 minutes.— Jack LeGwin (@jacklegwin) July 20, 2014
His passing impressed me this week. RT @JohnMartin929: Kevaughn Allen is going to be such a stud at Florida. So tough.— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) July 20, 2014
Florida is getting a gem in KeVaughn Allen. Doing everything in this semi— Jack LeGwin (@jacklegwin) July 20, 2014
Florida fans rejoice KeVaughn Allen (Team Penny) is the absolute 100% real deal.— Andre Whitehead (@Tnprephoops) July 19, 2014
It's officially 40 points for Malik Monk in the Arkansas Wings' win. KeVaughn Allen has 26 in the loss for Team Penny.— Dudley E. Dawson (@Dedsports) July 19, 2014
KeVaughn Allen just blew the top off this place, taking high alley-oop pass from KJ and stuffing it one-handed. 83-78, Penny. 42.6 left.— L. Jason Smith (@TheCAJasonSmith) July 18, 2014
Not enough can be said about the athleticism of Kevaughn Allen. #HumanPogoStick— The EYBL Circuit (@D1Circuit) July 18, 2014
Allen averaged 19 points per game in Peach Jam competition, made 17 of his 35 threes to answer any critics of his shooting, and helped lead his team, Team Penny — yes, run and partially coached by Penny Hardaway — to the finals of the competition. In the finals, they lost to the NJ Playaz, partially because Allen missed a late layup, but not before coming back from a double-digit halftime deficit to make the game close.
Only a few players — 2016 super-recruits Dedric Lawson and Malik Monk, 2015 No. 1 recruit Ben Simmons, NJ Playaz star Isaiah Briscoe, bucket-getter Allonzo Trier — were more consistently great at the Peach Jam than Allen, and those players are all among the 10 best in the nation in their respective classes, according to the 247Sports Composite. Allen is just the No. 52 player in the 2015 class per that same composite ranking, though, and 247Sports's lead basketball writer, Jerry Meyer, suggests that he's sort of topped out in that range.
To a degree, I get that. Allen's a 6'3" guard with bounce, defensive tenacity, and a sometimes-questionable outside shot, which makes him a really good prospect, not a great one, in a vacuum.
But one of the nice things about college basketball is that it is not played in a vacuum, and one of the great things about Florida's program is that Billy Donovan almost always makes his teams more than the sum of their parts. Given what I've now seen and read about Allen, I think he profiles as a bigger, more athletic, and more raw version of Kenny Boynton at this point — and Boynton, for all his limitations as a short shooting guard without point guard chops, only started for four years at Florida, and became the program's all-time leading scorer (not named Vernon Maxwell).
If Donovan and Allen can turn some of his rougher edges into strengths, the sky may be his limit.
And I like their chances of doing that.