And there it is. Jarrett Allen, the proverbial last piece of the puzzle for the 2016-17 Texas Longhorns basketball program, signed financial aid / scholarship papers with Texas today. Allen, a McDonald's All-American ranked 17th nationally in the 247 Composite rankings, represents the highest-rated player Texas head coach Shaka Smart has ever signed. Allen played high school ball locally at St. Stephen's and AAU with Houston-based Texas Pro (which counts Isaiah Taylor as an alum). Allen picked Texas over the Houston Cougars.
For all the hand-wringing about Allen's indecision, he actually played the game perfectly, bypassing a chance to sign a one-way Letter of Intent (paging Baylor's 2016 football class...) and waiting out other commitments to find the best fit. He reportedly favored Kentucky in the fall, and also took visits to Notre Dame and Kansas. Ultimately, a strong season by Texas and its big men development of Cameron Ridley and Prince Ibeh had a huge impact on Allen's decision, and he will be donning the orange and white this fall.
Prior to his senior season, I thought of Allen as a multi-year developmental big man, but a strong final campaign and solid showing in post-season all-star games has me rethinking that analysis. For example, Draft Express' preliminary 2017 big board has Allen ranked 10th. At the Nike Hoop Summit, Allen measured 6' 10.5" and 227 pounds with a 7' 5.5" wingspan. His particular set of skills make him an ideal college 5 with stretch 4 potential as a pro.
On the post-season circuit, Allen proved to be the best help defender and rim protector of all the All-Americans, swatting multiple shots and controlling the paint unlike any other big man. With Texas returning only non-shot blocker Shaquille Cleare in the paint, that alone will be a huge asset. Allen doesn't have an advanced post game or a mature enough body to score at will down low, but he can serve as a rim runner and tried his hand at a few post moves. The baby hook is likely his best weapon. Most importantly for his NBA stock, Allen has the potential to develop a nice midrange game (LaMarcus Aldridge flashbacks, anyone?).
Allen has an inside track to a starting gig next year, preferably at the 5 but also as a twin tower 4 alongside returnee Cleare. Texas also adds fellow freshman James Banks, who looks like a more developmental prospect, and graduate transfer Mareik Isom, a pure stretch 4. Wing sophomore Tevin Mack got some playing time at the 4 last year and may see time in 4-out lineups as well.
The addition of Allen to the 2016 class, now ranked 6th nationally by the 247 Sports Composite, is simply huge for Shaka Smart. Smart has already proven to be a great coach and plus recruiter, and the 2016-17 season just got a huge jolt of excitement with Allen's commitment. Welcome to the Forty, Jarrett.