As a sophomore wing for California’s #10 ranked Sheldon High (Ca.) Huskies, Dakarai Allen put up a respectable 7.9 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, 1.5 steals, and 1.3 assists per game. Nothing eye popping, and not enough to propel him to the upper echelon of the ’11-’12 preseason recruit rankings, but certainly enough to establish himself as a consistent and reliable contributor. As his junior season began to unfold, however, it was becoming quite clear Allen was taking his game, and that of his team, to another level. Sheldon’s #10 ranking jumped to that of #4 by season’s end. Allen’s 7.9 points per game ballooned to 14.0 per game. The 4.0 rebounds became 7.0, assists climbed to 3.0, blocks to 2.1, and steals to 2.6. In short the contributor developed into The Contributor, and Dakarai Allen cemented a more formidable position in the West Coast recruiting scene.
By season’s end the folks over at Rivals saw fit to slot Allen as the #128 overall recruit in the 2013 class. Many, myself included, were a bit surprised Allen had not made his way into the top 100. He echoed the sentiment when asked about the rankings, “I don’t get into rankings much since we all are going to start over in college but I feel I’m a top 100 player at least. I just use that as motivation and keep in mind I still have something to prove”. Although the 14 points and 7 rebounds are not jump off the page numbers, when placed in the context of Allen’s overall game, they are more than enough to grab the attention of most West Coast D1 programs. A few years ago baseball scouts were quick to attach the “5-tool” tag to just about any prospect with above average athleticism and decent power. On the diamond, the 5 tools are the ability to hit, hit for power, run, field, and throw. On the hoops side the “5 tools” would include the ability to score, shoot, pass, rebound, and defend. First and foremost, Dakarai Allen is a high level defensive player on the verge of establishing himself as a true lockdown defender. He is 6’5, but his above average arm length affords Allen the defensive surface area of a player 4-5 inches taller. There’s solid bounce and athleticism to his game, but he is not what I would classify a jump out of the building type athlete. Tenacity, energy, and anticipation more than compensate for the lack of elite athleticism, and Allen has established himself as a force on both ends of the court.
Opportunities for improvement include adding consistency to his outside shot, tightening up what can be a higher than needed dribble, and adding muscle/strength to his frame. Allen mentioned similar when asked to list game skills he is looking to refine, “My biggest area of improvement is becoming a consistent shooter also creating a good shot for myself in a one on one situation”. His frame appears capable of carrying another 15-20lbs in muscle and that should not compromise agility or quickness. Allen clearly favors his right hand when finishing, although he does appear going to his left (defender’s right) when taking an opponent off the dribble. College defenders and Coaches will combat that overt tendency to finish with the right unless, or until, Allen proves he can finish effectively with each hand. Assuming he does get to the 185-190lb range I project Allen as a SF on the next level, and one whom will have the ability to match up defensively against most 2′s and 3′s. At current I don’t see the quickness or outside game necessary for Allen to play the 2 in college, but he is an intriguing slasher and a high level passer. If the outside shot comes, and by all account Allen possesses an extremely strong work ethic and desire to improve, he could prove difficult to guard in either position. He’s an emphatic and creative finisher around the rim and does play through contact.
Holding offers from San Diego State, Colorado, Oregon State, USC, and many more, come the end of the ’12-’13 season it is safe to assume Dakarai Allen breaks the rivals 2013 Top 100, most likely finds himself in the 50-60 range, and lands a 4th star. Given his penchant for improvement, I project Allen to average 16-18 points and 7.5-8.5 rebounds per game his senior season. Rare is the player whom consistently produces 2+ blocks, 2+ steals, and 5+ assists, and it is not a stretch to project just that out of Allen for the coming season. Score, shoot, rebound, pass, and defend….Funny thing about Dakarai Allen, I’m not 100% sure he is aware just how much he impacts the game. When asked to describe his game, “I’m a player who brings defensive intensity to the game while making plays on each end of the court”. Great description of the contributor I referenced early in this piece, but woefully lacking in describing what I regard as an elite ’13 prospect and a future All-Conference caliber player at the D1 level. Dakarai Allen, “Five-tool prospect”, has a nice ring to it.