Going into last week, 247Sports was the only major recruiting service that included Pendleton County basketball star Dontaie Allen in its national rankings for the class of 2019.
That website had Allen at No. 151 overall after scouting him with his M.A.T.T.S. Mustangs travel team this spring. Rivals.com’s rankings include only the top 150 prospects in the class, and ESPN’s list goes only 100 players deep.
247Sports national analyst Evan Daniels evaluated Allen — a 6-foot-6 wing player — at two events in Georgia last week, including the star-studded Under Armour Challenge, and what he saw vindicated the decision to include the Kentucky native in the national rankings this year.
“It starts with his good size and length for a perimeter player,” Daniels told the Herald-Leader. “And then it’s his shooting ability — I think that’s probably what stuck out to me the most. He has an easy, clean stroke, and he made a bunch of them this weekend. I know at UA he was 15-of-37 from three. I think it’s pretty clear he’s a confident shot-maker from distance. Probably a little bit better ball handler than I gave him credit for, although he’s still a little bit of a straight-line driver. But he can make one- and two-dribble pull-ups. I saw him go to the post and score. Plus, I think he’s got a very good feel for the game, especially as a scorer. I was very impressed.”
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UK Coach John Calipari, who watched Allen play for the first time last week, reached out Wednesday, and Allen has scheduled an unofficial visit to Lexington for Aug. 1. He was also on UK’s campus last month, though Calipari was out of town when he made that trip. The Kentucky coach prefers to evaluate players in person and meet with them and their families before extending a scholarship offer, so the continued communication is a sign that one could be coming in the next couple of weeks.
The Wildcats have to be enamored with Allen’s scoring ability. He averaged 31.8 points per game as a junior at Pendleton County last season, shooting 59.1 percent from the floor, 39.6 percent from three-point range (with 74 makes from deep), and 80.2 percent from the free-throw line. Allen led the UA Challenge — an event that featured several five-star players — with 26.4 points per game last week.
Daniels said he showed offensive versatility in the process, noting that he also displayed good judgment from the field.
“He’s a little bit more than just a shooter,” he said. “I think an area that he’ll need to improve on is creating space off the dribble when he’s tightly guarded. But he’s a guy that — when there is space — can step in and make those jump shots, or use a ball-fake and make those jump shots. Any time you can shoot the ball the way he can, it opens up the rest of the floor. I think his size helps, because he plays fairly well through contact. I still think he can get better as a finisher at the rim, but he’s not just a shooter. He’s got some scoring package to him. He really utilized ball fakes and shot fakes and has good footwork.
“He was putting up some pretty high point totals, but I never felt like he was pressing or forcing the issue. He seemed to let the game come to him.”
Allen shot 54.5 percent from the field at the event, going 40.5 percent from three and making 78 percent of his free throws.
The biggest question moving forward is Allen’s defensive ability at the next level. He has great size and length for a perimeter defender, but there is room for improvement.
“He’s just an average athlete, and I think laterally is an area for him to improve,” Daniels said. “I think right now, at the high school level, he’s fine. But there’s going to be some things he’s going to have to fine-tune and improve to defend high-level wings in college. Now, he’s young, and he has good length and it sounds like he has good work ethic, so that stuff could come.
“But I think that’s probably an area for improvement.”
Rivals.com also had recruiting analysts at last week’s events and bumped Allen up to the No. 46 overall ranking Tuesday.
247Sports moved him up 70 spots — to the No. 81 overall ranking — Wednesday.
“I think he’s a Top 100 prospect,” Daniels said.