ACC’s Top 25 Players: No. 13 – Jeff Allen, Virginia Tech

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Jeff Allen is not a great player. He never has been in his three-year career at Virginia Tech and you shouldn’t expect him to become one this year. So why is Jeff Allen the No. 12 player on this list?

Luck. Yep, luck. He’s lucky because he gets to play with arguable the best guard combo in the conference. Seniors Malcolm Delaney and Dorenzo Hudson are every opponent’s focus and the pair open things up for Jeff Allen down low. It worked that way last year and it will again this year.

First though, let’s get the bad news out of the way.

At 6-7 and a cubby 230, Allen is a short power forward and an overweight small forward. He’s not a superior athlete, he’s not going to run past anyone and he’s no threat from behind the three-point line (he’s made 21 in three seasons).

Worse yet, after three full seasons as a starter, his numbers have never really improved. His scoring and rebounding actually dipped his junior season (13.7/8.4 to 12.0/7.4), as did his shooting percentage (.488/.470).

Hell, after reading the last couple of paragraphs, I’m almost ready to drop Jeff Allen off this list…almost. Yet, it’s easy to just look at the numbers from the past. It’s a bigger challenge to look ahead.

If you’ve actually gotten a chance to watch Allen play, you can see improvements in his game. He’s slimmed down since walking onto campus as a freshman at 260 pounds and even though he can barely outrun the refs in a foot-race, he does run the floor well and his footwork and ball-handling skills have gotten better each and every year. He’s created a solid quick-release, which makes up for the fact he can’t really out-jump most defenders.

In the end though, where I truly expect Allen to improve his senior year is in his mind. He’s had a tendency to checkout for long stretches of games and when things haven’t gone his way, he tends to make things worse. In fact, he’s actually been suspected three times in his career due to his temper on the court.

Most importantly, it’s these same metal issues that turn Allen into a bull on the court, as oppose to a basketball player. When things aren’t working out for him, he loses focus, forgets the outlet pass, lowers his shoulder and tries to bull his way to the basket. That’s bad basketball.

Towards the end of last year though, Allen really showed improvement playing under pressure, not getting frustrated, using his skills and not just his size to score points. He also did a better job on the glass. He finished the season with four double-doubles in his last seven games and he grabbed at least nine boards in six of those games.

The fact is, with one more year left to go, look for Allen to really improve in his mind. It may have taken three years to grow up, but I suspect Allen can become a true leader on this team.

#14 – JOHN HENSON, FORWARD – NORTH CAROLINA

#15 – XAVIER GIBSON, CENTER – FLORIDA STATE

#16 – C.J. LESLIE, FORWARD – NORTH CAROLINA STATE

#17 – GLEN RICE JR., GUARD – GEORGIA TECH

#18 – REGGIE BULLOCK, GUARD – NORTH CAROLINA

#19 – MASON PLUMLEE, FORWARD – DUKE

#20 – C.J. HARRIS, GUARD – WAKE FOREST

#21 – SETH CURRY, GUARD – DUKE

#22 – SEAN MOSLEY, GUARD – MARYLAND

#23 – JOE TRAPANI, FORWARD – BOSTON COLLEGE

#24 – MIKE SCOTT, FORWARD – VIRGINIA

#25 IMAN SHUMPERT, GUARD – GEORGIA TECH