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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Kadeem Allen shows his worth against No.1 NBA draft prospect Markelle Fultz

Heather Newberry

Kadeem Allen (5) defends Markelle Fultz (20) during the Men’s Basketball game against Washington in Mckale Center on Jan. 29. The Wildcats won 77-66.

With 3:02 left in the game, Washington freshman standout Markelle Fultz missed his first free throw attempt and was immediately attacked by the ZonaZoo with chants of “overrated.”

Fultz is projected to be a top-3 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft and No. 1 overall according to Draft Express. However, being a top NBA prospect doesn’t prevent you from looking distraught late in the game when going up against a premiere defender such as Arizona’s Kadeem Allen.

Allen is the classic, defensive-minded veteran that does the dirty work while Fultz is the flashy, young gun with NBA oozing from him.

“He’s one of the great players that’s playing in college basketball—not just freshmen,” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said about Fultz. “He’s the real thing and he doesn’t need me to say that.”

RELATED: Wildcats win 20th game, fend off Huskies upset bid

Heading into Sunday’s game, Fultz averaged 32.3 points and 6 assists per game in the previous four games despite three of those games being losses. The production on the court speaks for itself and it’s mind-boggling to think where Washington would be at this season if it weren’t for a kid who’s barely old enough to be considered an adult.

For someone like Allen who normally guards the opposing team’s best player, this was his shot to solidify himself as a potential NBA prospect, a tall task when asking to defend the indefensible in Fultz. Allen corralled Fultz to only 16 points on 23 shot attempts, largely in part to his ability to wear opposing players down by crowding them and being a nuisance. Couple that with the fact Fultz played all 40 minutes for Washington and you can see how he was rendered useless down the stretch of the game.

“He got a couple calls to go his way. Gave him a charge when they said I pushed off. He’s a good defender, but I don’t feel like he bothered me,” Fultz said. “I still got to the rim and I still got to my pull-up … I’m pretty cool with him so it was pretty cool to go against him.”

Fultz of course isn’t going to say Allen got the best of him, nor should he, I mean who the hell is Kadeem Allen? He’s just some 24-year-old who held the freshman phenom and arguably the most talented guard in the country to 8-for-23 from the field including 0-for-4 from the 3-point line as well as three turnovers.

“He’s one of the best defensive guards you guys can ever watch,” Miller said. “He does it on the ball and does it on a variety of players … He gives you his heart and soul. There’s no way you can ever question his desire or his heart.”

Allen didn’t have the sexiest game against Washington on the offensive end, but 15 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists was the most balanced stat line of the afternoon.

This is where NBA mock drafts are full of cow manure, because offensive potential seems to be the only trait that NBA scouts are looking for while defensive upside is only a plus.

Kadeem Allen won’t get the love he deserves because he is not a offensive juggernaut. His skill set is comprised of grit, toughness and intelligence, something coaches adore but scouts ignore. He resembles T.J. McConnell in that neither player was appreciated for what intangibles they have during their college careers, but both have a skill set that can keep them in the NBA for years to come.

Follow Justin Spears on Twitter.

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