JUCO getting looks from many Div I coaches

Orlando Allen is a junior college player who did not put up big numbers or even start for his Paris Junior College team. Why then are so many Division I programs trying to get his attention?

Orlando Allen is a junior college player who did not put up big numbers or even start for his Paris Junior College team. Why then are so many Division I programs trying to get his attention?

"He is 6-foot-11, plays at about 265 lbs. and has a big upside," said Paris Junior College head coach Ross Hodge, who guided his #7 national ranked JUCO team to a 27-5 record and regional championship in his first season, including a perfect 15-0 home record. "When you look at the 2008 class there aren't a lot of big men out there. Guys with size like Orlando are going to get a lot of looks."

Coach Hodge describes Orlando as a raw talent offensively that has developed a nice jump hook and decent low post moves, "He is improving and developing nicely. There is no question that he is going to be effective at the Division I level."

Hodge warns that the fact that Orlando did not put up big numbers in his freshman season does not tell the story about his capabilities, "A couple of things happened this year," Hodge said, "We had a Junior College All-American playing in front of him, Ramon Clemente, for one. We were a deep team and played ten guys, so that had some impact as well. And Orlando played a great deal of the season with injuries."

Specifically, Hodge points out that Allen broke his thumb early in the season, and then later strained his ACL. "Those kinds of things are going to impact your productivity," Hodge said, "that's just the way it is."

The injuries and relatively low production on paper has not stopped the coaches from calling, however, "There has been tremendous interest in Orlando," said Hodge, "the list goes on and on. Programs like Kansas State, Washington State, West Virginia, Purdue, George Mason, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Baylor are all calling as well as Kentucky."

For Orlando, this will be round two of a recruiting process that was thought to be over when the big man committed to Seton Hall back in the fall of 2005. But the Ohio native changed his mind when the coach left the program.

"Bowling Green is also recruiting him now," Hodge added, "there is some history there because Orlando originally committed to Seton Hall when coach Louis Orr was there. He decommitted when the coach left and now Orr is in Bowling Green, so there is a relationship there that can't be discounted."

Hodge indicated that, of the schools that are knocking, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Baylor seem to be pursuing him the most aggressively, "Those schools seem to be the most persistent about lining up visits and really showing interest," the Texas coach said. Hodge said that Allen did make an unofficial visit to Kentucky and came back impressed, "Orlando is originally from Cincinnati. His Mom still lives there," said Hodge, "it's hard to not be impressed with Kentucky – you know, the tradition, their community support, their facilities and Rupp Arena."

The trip did not result in a scholarship offer, however, "I think Kentucky will continue to recruit him and watch his play this year," Hodge concluded. "He is getting the job done academically here, so that should not be a problem. I am not sure of Orlando's time table. He will be lining up official visits, probably to Nebraska, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Baylor, though that is not in stone at the moment. After that, I am not sure whether he will decide in the fall or in the spring."

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