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College Men’s Basketball: With Turgeon, Allen eyes big Terps career
BY ZAC BOYER
COLLEGE PARK, Md.—Seth Allen had developed a bond with Mark Turgeon during the few months the head coach had been recruiting him, but he was honest. There was no way he’d be playing college basketball for Turgeon at Texas A&M.
It was too far, Allen thought, and he didn’t want to be away from his family. Turgeon knew this, too, evident by the way Allen continued to hedge when Turgeon broached the topic of visiting a campus 1,400 miles away.
Allen was surprised, then, the day in the spring of 2011 when Turgeon was hired as Maryland’s next head coach. He thought for sure that Craig Booth, his AAU coach, was kidding when he told Allen of the move.
This was ideal. He could play college basketball for Turgeon and do so close to him. Less than a week later, when Turgeon offered his first scholarship as Maryland’s head coach, Allen became the first player to accept.
“I’m so glad he came to Maryland, because Texas is so far,” Allen said Tuesday at Comcast Center in advance of the Terrapins’ Oct. 12 start of practice. “I can go home on the weekends at times and see my family. It’s good. I’m real big on family. It would have been hard to not go back and see them.”
Turgeon first saw Allen play in person earlier that spring when, on a tip from assistant coach Scott Spinelli, he visited Fredericksburg Christian on an East Coast recruiting trip. Allen’s low recruiting profile had Turgeon skeptical—he was also offered a scholarship by only Central Florida, though Virginia and others were entering the mix—and suffocating traffic on the drive to the school had him convinced he’d made a mistake.
But Turgeon saw something about Allen’s quickness and the way he could aggressively get to the rim that he liked. He continued to recruit him, and after making the transition to Maryland, he knew that like any coaching change, he’d need players to fill out his roster.
What Turgeon didn’t count on was that Allen, The Free Lance–Star’s boys basketball player of the year in 2010–11, would continue to develop.
“The kid can really score the ball and draw fouls,” Turgeon said. “He’s a much better defender. We’re just trying to see if he can run the point for us. If that gets to be too much for him, we can always move him off the ball because of the way he can score.”
Junior Pe’Shon Howard, who played in only 14 games last season after breaking his left foot and tearing the ACL in his right knee, will return as the Terrapins’ starting point guard. Nick Faust, a sophomore, filled in for Howard last season and was named to the all-ACC freshman team.
That, theoretically, would leave little room for Allen. Turgeon, though, is committed to working the 6-foot-1, 190-pound freshman into the rotation because of his athleticism—something Maryland could use after going 17–15 last season, and 6–10 in the ACC, and finishing eighth in the conference in Turgeon’s first year.
“He’s real explosive,” Howard said. “He knows the game. He can make plays. He’s not really shy, and he’s really aggressive—kind of like how Terrell [Stoglin] and I were my freshman year. He wants to play, expects to play.”
Allen has tried to prepare for the rigors of the college game, and an ACC schedule, by working on his defense. He’s also tried to fine-tune his offensive game by adding a mid-range jumper and a floater, understanding that defenders will slide under him if he continues to drive to the basket.
Managing the game has been his biggest adjustment. A scorer at FCS—he averaged 20 points as a senior and 25 the year before—Allen said he struggled early on while playing with his teammates because he was too impatient to let the play develop.
He’s getting comfortable—with his new position, his new role, his new team and his new school.
“It would have been nice to go to Texas and all, but I like it here at home, so I just didn’t leave,” Allen said.
Zac Boyer: 540/374-5440