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Kadeem Allen took the road less traveled to the NBA

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Courtney Talak | The Daily Wildcat

Former Arizona guard Kadeem Allen (5) drives past Xavier guard J.P. Macura (55) during the second half of the Arizona vs Xavier Sweet 16 matchup on Thursday, March 23. Allen was selected by the Boston Celtics with the 53rd overall pick in the second round of the NBA Draft.

Arizona guard Kadeem Allen will have a shot at the big time after being selected by the Boston Celtics in the second round of the NBA Draft. For much of his collegiate basketball career, this year’s 53rd overall pick didn’t fit the mold of those selected in the draft.

Allen wasn’t a highly sought-after recruit in high school, he didn’t begin his college career at a Division I program, and he wasn’t a one-and-done player when he played for Arizona.

Instead Allen, a fifth-year senior this past season, paved his own way to the draft with an unmatched combination of effort and leadership which may put him in a position to make an NBA roster.

The 6’3” guard from Wilmington, North Carolina began his five-year journey in 2012 playing for Hutchinson Community College. In his second season, Allen averaged 25.9 points per game and was named the 2014 Junior College Player of the Year, catching the eye of Arizona head coach Sean Miller.

When Allen transferred to Arizona in 2014, the thinking was that Miller would insert him into the rotation off the bench, giving the guard his first taste of Division I basketball. However, Allen didn’t see any playing time his first year in Tucson and reluctantly redshirted. A year later, though, as a junior, Allen played and averaged 8.4 points per game.

While Allen was known for being a scorer in junior college, his staple as Wildcat turned out to be his leadership and physical shutdown defense. In his final year at Arizona, Allen became the true glue guy of Miller’s squad, earning consistently high praise. Coach Miller heralded Allen as “one of the great leaders that I’ve coached,” and “one of the best defensive guards” in the NCAA.

Perhaps the most telling example of Allen’s defense prowess was his performance against Washington’s Markelle Fultz during a game in Tucson this year. The Arizona guard held the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft to just 16 points on 23 shots, one of Fultz’ worst outings of the year.

That game surely stuck in the minds of NBA scouts, and many teams were impressed by Allen’s energy and physical play during workouts. In his pre-draft evaluations, DraftExpress.com labeled Allen as a player who “has all the makings of a stopper at the NBA level.”

Now, he will get a chance to prove so in Boston, but it won’t be easy.

This summer and leading into the fall, the 24-year-old will once have to navigate the more-than-challenging waters to stick with the Celtics.

A roster spot is not guaranteed, and even if Allen gets one, extended playing time will be scarce at first. It’s also possible that the guard will head to the NBA G-League to polish his game, meaning he’ll have to work his up way from the bottom.

Only time will tell where Kadeem Allen lands and how he will fit in. He already knows all of this, of course; he’s been through it before.


Follow Alec White on Twitter.



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