Peyton Allen Loves Meeting Deron, Others

The Fighting Illini recently held their Alumni game and team scrimmage at the Assembly Hall. This was a great opportunity for top recruits to experience the camaraderie of Illini Nation and its star players past and present. Chatham Glenwood guard Peyton Allen enjoyed meeting great past Illinois players, including an NBA superstar.

Peyton Allen is a 6'-5" combo guard who ranks among the top prospects in the Illinois class of 2014. He described his visit to campus for the Alumni Game.

"I went to the Alumni Game with my grandpa. I sat on the floor with Jalen James, Keita Bates-Diop, and Jordan Ash. It was fun seeing all the Illini for next year scrimmage before the Alumni Game. Then it was awesome to see all the alumni players scrimmage against each other."

The best part for Allen was meeting Illini greats from the past.

"The coaches took us back in the locker room afterwards, and we met players like Kendall Gill, Brian Cook, Dee Brown and Deron Williams. Everyone met Deron because he was in there with about fifty reporters around him.

Coach (Jay) Price, Coach (Bruce) Weber, and Coach (Jerrance) Howard all introduced us to the players. It was fun seeing an NBA superstar."

Meeting New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams was a big thrill for the high school sophomore.

"It was definitely cool. I have seen him on TV and playing in the Olympics. Meeting him was pretty big. I have never really seen an NBA superstar that close. I got to meet him and take a picture with him."

Allen was in grade school when the 2004-2005 Illinois team made its magical run through the regular season and NCAA tournament. That team still has a big influence on him and his peers.

"It shows me how far you can get. They didn't have a lot of highly ranked players. Dee Brown was the highest, and Deron ended up going bigger. It shows you that at Illinois, you can become great and get to the national championship game like they did if you put in the hard work and play as a team."

He was pleased with how Illini fans came out to support their current and former players during the offseason.

"It was really hot in there with no air conditioning. A lot of fans showed up and showed their support for the team. I was really impressed with how many people came with no air conditioning. Every time anyone scored, they would cheer. It was a great atmosphere to be around."

Allen hung out with other top high school visitors while on campus.

"Larry Austin, Darius Austin, Malcolm Hill, Jahlil Okafor and Paul White all sat away from us. We met before the game, at halftime and after the game. I sat with Keita Bates-Diop, Jordan Ash and Illini commit Jalen James. We all talked as we are all Wolves (AAU) kids, so we know each other pretty well. We had a really good time."

Has Illini commitment James been in Allen's ear about playing together in college?

"Jalen and I are really close. He has been telling me he wants me to come to Illinois so we can play together. I really like Jalen James, and we have become really good friends."

Allen was able to speak with the Illini coaching staff during the visit as well.

"Coach Howard, Coach Price, and Coach Weber all briefly talked to us during the game and said hello to our families. They talked to us during the game and after the game when we went back in the locker room."

Weber gave him some feedback on what he saw in July."Coach Weber said I was playing real good until I pulled my hamstring in that last game. He said I played well and was asking about how the injury was coming along. I told him it was going good."

The Illinois staff has been recruiting Allen for awhile, and their relationship has continued to build.

"They have been recruiting me for almost a year now. I have gotten to know all the players and coaches. They are all really nice."

Allen was also impressed with the current Illini team.

"I thought they looked really good, especially the Wolves in Tracy Abrams, Nnanna Egwu, Sam Maniscalco and Joseph Bertrand. They did real good. It was great to see them do well. Hopefully the next generation of Wolves can do the same."

Illinois and the Wolves have enjoyed a great relationship over the years. Why are they so successful at preparing their players for the next level?

"The Wolves have always had a successful program, and coach (Mike) Mullins knows a lot of big-time coaches. He gets stuff done and helps get people offers.

If you play hard and are a good player, you are probably going to go D-1. The Wolves have helped me out a lot and have helped a lot of colleges get good players."

Allen is part of an elite group of prospects in the Illinois class of 2014 and will remain a recruiting priority for the Illini, although they will have to keep other schools from trying to steal him away.

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