Timmy Allen continues to get better and better.
After being named to the all-Pac-12 second team following the conclusion of his sophomore season last year, Allen entered his name into the NBA draft.
But two and a half months later, Allen had a change of heart and elected to return to Utah for his junior season and "run it back." He knew there were certain parts of his game that he needed to improve upon, and he set about working towards those goals all offseason.
Now that his junior season is completed, it's safe to say that Allen not only improved his game, but he improved the Utes as a whole. After averaging 17.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.2 steals per game this season, Allen was named to the all-Pac-12 first team.
He is the first Ute to be selected to the first team since Justin Bibbins in 2019, and the first forward to achieve the honor since Kyle Kuzma in 2017.
Allen entered this past season primarily as a slasher and low post scorer, but showcased the potential of being a playmaker and somebody who could run the offense.
That turned out to be true as Allen might have been the most complete player in the Pac-12 this past season. He finished seventh in scoring, tied for fourth in assists, tied for 10th in rebounds and tenth in steals — the only player in the conference to rank in the top-10 in each of those statistical categories.
“I have never coached anybody that wants to compete more, and wants to be on the court more, than (Allen),” said Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak. “This is a kid that has had some nagging injuries the last couple of weeks. He has been playing with a wrist (injury) and a foot (injury) and some things, and some guys want to take the time off to get their body ready. Not Timmy.”
Allen scored in double figures in 23 of 25 games this season, but was particularly special when the Utes needed him most late in the year.
Following a four-game losing streak late in the season, Utah responded with victories over USC and Arizona State (and a loss to Oregon State) to enter the Pac-12 tournament on a high. He then led Utah to its first tournament victory since 2016 in a 98-95 win over Washington in the first round before the Utes fell 91-86 in double overtime to USC in the quarterfinals.
During those five games he averaged 19 points, 7.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He recorded double-doubles in both games of the Pac-12 tournament, finishing with 24 points and 11 rebounds against the Huskies before dropping 20 points and 13 rebounds against the Trojans.
“One of the biggest joys, I think, is just his engagement in practice, and off the court,” Krystkowiak said. “The culture of our program, he is right in the throes of that. There have been times in practice, I don’t care who it is, he’s got his arm around them, he is talking to them. From a leadership point of view, he has grown leaps and bounds.”
He finished with four double-doubles on the season, three with rebounds and one with assists.
But where he really wanted to improve his game came on offense with his efficiency.
After shooting 44.1% from the field and 21.1% from beyond the arc following the 2019-20 season, he raised those numbers to 46.5% from the field and 26.8% from three-point territory. While not ideal numbers, the improvement was noted as he was not only the focal point of Utah's offense, he was the focal point of every opponent the Utes faced.
While Allen played well on offense, it was his defense that Krystkowiak believes sets him apart from other players. His willingness to defend each opponent's top wing/big man while carrying that sort of load on offense is why coach holds Allen in such high regard.
“We got a lot of guys who are trying,” Krystkowiak said. “It is not always perfect, but we have a connected group defensively and (Allen) has always loved to play defense. He has never had a problem with that. And so I think there is some trust in teammates, and he is one of the catalysts for us defensively, a big, physical kid.”
It's a waiting game for Allen as he is expected to contemplate entering his in the NBA draft process again — while still being able to withdraw and suit up next season. Either way, the strides he made this season were impressive and it would be extremely intriguing if he came back one more time.