Dover’s Allen making a name for himself

 

Jordan Allen (2), a Dover High grad, is averaging 15.9 points per game as a redshirt freshman at Rider. (Rider University photo/Steve McLaughlin)

LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. — Jordan Allen didn’t want to get too carried away with his expectations.

The Dover High grad was only a freshman on the Rider University men’s basketball team, after all.

Just hearing that he was going to start the Broncs’ season opener this year was a big deal for Allen.

“It was in our scrimmage that I found out,” he said. “When he put the first five up there and he said my name, my eyes got big.

“That was a big surprise. I knew I was going to play but I didn’t think I was going to be in the starting rotation.”

A dozen games later, Allen has more than proven that he’s capable of playing on the NCAA Division I level.

A 6-foot-4 redshirt-freshman guard, Allen has emerged as the leading scorer at 15.9 points per game for the Broncs (7-5), who knocked off Penn State on Friday night on a three-pointer at the buzzer.

In one stretch, Allen was named the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Rookie of the Week three times in a row.

“He’s done wonderfully,” said Dover High coach Stephen Wilson. “He’s representing our program and our state very well, I believe.”

But Allen’s college career got off to something of a slow start when he had to redshirt as a true freshman because of some issues with his high school academic credits.

It turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the youngster. A year of practicing with his new teammates left him better prepared to play at this level.

“It wasn’t as tough as I thought it would have been,” said Wilson. “He took the time to get bigger. He took the time to work on the speed of the game. He also had the opportunity to get stronger academically.

“I thought it was the best thing that could have happened for him.”

Allen admits it took him a little while to get used to not playing for a whole season.

“It was frustrating at first,” he said. “Coming in freshman year, you wanted to play right away. But it made me think about everything and sit down and watch the game more. I focused on what I had to do better for next year and to make the team better.

“I was way better than what I was coming in the first year. It helped me as a player and a person.”

Allen hit the ground running, netting 21 points in his college debut against Hampton. He went on to score in double figures in his first 10 games.

The highlight of that run was a career-high 28-point night in a four-point loss at Providence on Nov. 29. Allen had 21 second-half points in the game, going 5-for-10 from three-point range.

Along with being fifth in the MAAC in scoring, Allen is tied for the league lead with 3.5 three-pointers per contest. He’s 41-for-102 from beyond the arc for the season. Nobody else on the team has made more than 15 threes.

Of course, Allen’s early success has also brought more attention from opposing defenses.

He’s been limited to eight points in each of Rider’s last two games. But Allen knows that’s part of adjusting to the college game, too.

“They’re scouting us the same way we’re scouting them,” he said. “So now they know every little thing someone’s doing — every little tendency I have.

“It’s definitely a lot harder to get the ball so it makes you focus more and try to get better in practice.”

“He’s going to slump a little bit,” said Wilson. “We talked about that. But he cares about the team winning. Teams are trying to shut him down, averaging what he’s averaging.”

Allen stays in close touch with Wilson. He said his high school coach is one of the big reasons he’s made it this far.

“He’s just very proud of me and everything I’m doing,” said Allen. “We wanted this together. He helped push me through a lot of things when I was younger. He kept making me remember, ‘You have an agenda. You know where you want to go.’”

Rider’s program may not have the name recognition of some other teams, but the Broncs face some tough competition. Along with Providence and Penn State, they’ve also played Xavier and Wagner this season.

Allen likes the fact that he and his teammates aren’t intimidated by anyone.

“It feels good to be out there,” he said. “I feel like I belong out there. I feel like everybody on my team belongs out there, too. It’s more like, ‘OK, can we get this win now.’

“When we find a way to win, it shows us a lot. We can compete with anybody. It doesn’t matter who we play, how big the team is, things like that. We just want to go win. We all don’t like losing. We all just want to go out there and play hard for each other.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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