Q&A with Jarrett Allen: 'I'm willing to expand my game to places I haven't taken it before' (Anthony-NBA-ESPN)

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Texas freshman center Jarrett Allen is projected to be a top-20 pick in this year’s NBA draft and he explained to ESPN.com in a Q&A his desire to become one of the league’s best big men.

Allen is 19, but people close to him say he’s got the mentality and soul of a 35-year-old. He’s cerebral yet humble, and is somebody who loves to work on his basketball craft.

The 6-foot-11, athletic center posted numbers of 13.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 1.5 blocks per game while shooting 58 percent from the field in his lone collegiate season. And in his spare time, he has a hobby that’s uncommon for most people his age.

He’s attending this week’s NBA Combine in Chicago, but will only go through the testing and interviews sessions. ESPN caught up with him before his big week.

Editor’s note: The NBA draft combine is May 9-14, the draft lottery is May 16 and the 2017 NBA draft will be held on June 22.

Chris Haynes: What are some of your off-court interests that people may find shocking?

Jarrett Allen: “I’m really into making components of computers. I built myself a computer a couple of years ago. I put all the parts together.”

CH: How long have you been building computers?

JA: “It’s always been a family thing. My dad and my brother have always been into computers, so I thought I’d jump into the world.”

CH: Do you see yourself getting into the computer business during or after your playing career?

JA: “No, it’s just more of a hobby.”

CH: What’s the ultimate goal for you once you’re in the league?

JA: “My ultimate goal is to be one of the top centers in the NBA and always trying to see how I can become that. That’s going to always be my goal.”

“You can’t beat going home and doing laundry every week.”

Jarrett Allen, an Austin-area native, on why he chose Texas

CH: What areas you must improve upon to reach your full potential?

JA: “The obvious one is strength. Everybody tells me to get stronger. And the other one is just trying to keep more consistency in my game.”

CH: Do you consider yourself a conventional center, or are you capable of sliding down a position?

JA: “Probably in my first couple of years, I’m probably going to be a conventional center position until I bring more offense to my game.”

CH: What attributes of your game do you feel are NBA-ready now?

JA: “My mobility as a center. I feel I have pretty decent lateral movement and I can move pretty quickly up and down the court.”

CH: What’s your thoughts on how the center position has changed over the years?

JA: “It has changed a lot. You see people like [Minnesota Timberwolves center] Karl-Anthony Towns doing amazing things. He’s doing things centers five years ago wouldn’t be doing, but I think it’s changing for the better. Big men are still going to have to do what they have to do, but we just have to add more to our game.”

CH: What comes to mind when you look at mock drafts?

JA: “I try to think to what can I do to get higher. ‘What do these other guys have over me and what do I need to do to improve my game and stand out a little.'”

CH: What made you choose Texas?

JA: “First of all, every other school was good. Kansas, Kentucky, Houston. They all had their things to offer. But with Texas, they had almost the same things to offer and it was also close to home [Allen is from nearby Round Rock] and you can’t beat going home and doing laundry every week.”

CH: How would you rate the season you had as a Longhorn?

JA: “Personally, I think I did pretty well. I know I had a slow start at the beginning of the season but I picked it up toward the end. Overall, I’ll grade my season a mid to high mark.”

CH: What ultimately led you to turn pro?

JA: “Just gathering information after the season was over. Seeing where people thought I stood. Talking to [Texas coach Shaka] Smart, talking to my family and then we decided this was the best decision to go.”

CH: What separates you from the other centers in this draft class?

JA: “I don’t really know a lot about the other guys, but for myself, I know I’m in the mindset where I’m willing to learn, I’m willing to expand my game to places I haven’t taken it before.”

CH: Do you feel you’re under the radar?

JA: “No, not right now. I know UT, our games weren’t as publicized as everyone else’s but in the end, I think I got my name out there enough.”

CH: Is there a Texas alum who has mentored you during this process?

JA: “I haven’t really been mentored by him, but [Indiana Pacers forward] Myles Turner is someone I speak with regularly. He’s not that much older than me. I just normally ask him for advice and he checks on how I’m doing.”

CH: When you’re on that podium shaking Adam Silver’s hand, what will you be thinking about?

JA: “That the dream is actually coming true. After all these years of putting in hard work and all the sacrifices, it’s actually happening for me.”


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