Catching up with ... John Allen
Former Mountlake Terrace basketball player helped Western win its first NCAA Division II national title
Player: John Allen
Year, school: Junior, Western Washington University
Hometown: Mountlake Terrace (Mountlake Terrace High School)
What he did: Scored a team-high 14 points to lead the Vikings to a 72-65 win over Montevallo (Ala.) and their first NCAA Division II national title on Saturday. The 6-foot-1 point guard ranked second on the team in scoring (14.6 points per game) and assists (2.9 per game) this season.
What's next: Allen has one more year of eligibility for the national champion Vikings, who return one other starter.
So. Anything new with you?
Besides being a national champion, nothing much. Spring quarter is coming up. I'm just going to enjoy some time off from hooping and focus on school a little more.
What's it been like in Bellingham this week?
I actually went home (to Mountlake Terrace). We had a little parade thing Sunday, then I went home. It's been crazy here in the Terrace, just running into people. Everyone is saying something. It's crazy. It's been fun.
Tell me about the parade.
We had a police escort to the back of the school, and then KING-5 and all them were waiting for us. There were probably 150 to 200 fans waiting for us when got back to the gym. It was pretty cool.
You've had a few days to digest the national championship. Can you put into words what it means to have finished off your junior season like that?
I mean, I don't know if I can put it into words. It's just kind of like a living-a-dream experience. I'm trying to soak in every moment. It still hasn't hit me yet. When I run into people, they all have something to say, but it still hasn't totally hit me.
What's the coolest thing that has come out of the national title?
Chartering the plane back was pretty cool. I had a bunch of friends (from Shorewood High School and Mountlake Terrace) over Sunday night, and hearing how excited they were, that was probably the coolest thing.
You'll probably hear this question 10,000 times over the next 11 months: can the Vikings do it again?
I think so. We're losing some key pieces, but a good foundation is still there. We'll have great guard play. Paul Jones is back, and our center (Chris Mitchell). It's something we can still definitely do, but I don't want to make any predictions.
Have you heard from Klay Thompson or DeAngelo Casto or any of your old WSU teammates?
Klay sent me a text to congratulate me, and he hit me up on Facebook. I've heard from Marcus Capers, Abe Lodwick, a couple of other people. A couple of assistants there, some basketball ops guys. It's been love from everyone.
Now that you've earned the highest honor at the D-II level, do you find yourself wondering what might have happened if you'd stuck it out at WSU?
I think these last couple of days reassured me I made the right decision of leaving. For a little bit when I first got to Western, there was a little bit of what-if. Competitively, it's different. But now, I never wonder what-if. At any level, to accomplish what we did is something special. So I haven't looked back at all. It definitely put away some doubts I may have had earlier in my career. Those are gone.
You're not that big, and you had to sit out your senior season at Mountlake Terrace because of a WIAA age rule. So do you feel like you've been overlooked a lot as a basketball player?
I wouldn't say overlooked. The places I've been, especially WSU, there's a lot of talent there. Not everyone can get recruited by every school. I'd just say some people might have had a better opportunity, but not overlooked.
Did the national title validate anything for you personally?
Maybe as a teammate and as a leader. As an individual, between my friends and family, they always knew I had a little talent on the floor. But it doesn't validate anything personally. It's something to look back on as an accomplishment for the team.
If a good high school basketball player is wavering between walking on for a Pac-12 school or going to a D-II school, how would you advise him?
It all kind of depends. I had an interesting situation. I didn't play (at WSU), and I thought I was capable of playing at that level. But it's a personal thing. If you have that confidence, you have to try. It was such a cool experience being able to travel and be a part of the Pac-10 thing. But it's a personal decision. I know people who walked on at big schools and didn't really like it. The way I see it, I got to do it all. If they're confident enough, I'd advise them to try (playing Division I ball). If it's not working out, there's always the Division II level. And that's not a knock on D-II at all. (In Division I), the four and five (positions) are a little bigger, and the crowd is bigger, but other than that it's the same game.
Who's going to take the Final Four this weekend?
I think I've got Kentucky winning it. I've always liked Gilchrist (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist) and Anthony Davis. I watched Gilchrist a little in high school. I think this is the year (Kentucky coach John) Calipari gets it done.
How do you think Western would fare in the NCAA tournament if it had Anthony Davis or Thomas Robinson up front?
If we had them up front? We had a great frontcourt, but if we had guys like that, we could have made a run. We have the coaching , the guard play. I think we could compete. I'm not sure if we'd make a run, but we would compete.
Which one of the remaining coaches would you love to play for?
I like Calipari. I like the way he develops players and moves them on to the next level. But I like all of them. I'm a big Bill Self guy. But I do like Calipari.
Got any thoughts about being a coach yourself?
I've thought about it. I always want to be a businessman. But I'm a competitor. I like to help people, and coaching is definitely something I've thought about doing if it ever became realistic for me.
Would you dress more like Rick Pitino or (WWU coach) Brad Jackson?
More like Pitino.
Is that a knock on your coach's style?
No. He's real calm and cool. He's not a flashy guy.
Now he's got a little bling, though, with the ring and all.
We were all joking about that. A lot of us have only been here two years, and he's been here 27 years, so we're trying to figure out what took him so long. We joke with him about that.
So if you get into coaching, you're guaranteeing a championship within two years?
Maybe not two. No, I'd never guarantee that. A lot of great coaches never got a title. You've got to have some things go your way and have one of those special teams that come around once in awhile.
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