Chasson Randle is a true embodiment of the term “student-athlete.” Anthony Brown has stepped up his all-around game to a higher level in Pac-12 play. Stefan Nastic is coming off a dominant performance, leaving Huskies in his wake on Wednesday night.
All three are good players. But, with all due respect to those young men, none of them are my favorite Stanford men’s basketball player to watch right now.
That honor belongs to an undeclared sophomore from Las Vegas who is averaging under four points per game, but has quickly become one of the team’s more electrifying players. You know him as Marcus Allen.
As a Stanford guy, it’s hard for me to like a player named Marcus Allen. I’ll fully admit that. But when he has stepped on the floor, Stanford’s Marcus Allen has brought an undeniable energy that is equal parts infectious and telegenic. On a team that has no shortage of entertaining players, Allen may be the most fun to watch.
Need quickness on defense? Allen’s your man. Want someone who is fearless around the hoop? Call Number 15. Looking for someone who can leap out of the proverbial gym? Marcus Allen’s the name.
Indeed, despite being one of three guys with the Allen surname on Stanford’s roster (along with twin brother Malcolm and junior forward Rosco), Marcus is starting to make a name for himself. His coach could not be happier. “He’s starting to come into his own,” Johnny Dawkins told the Cardinal Sports Network on Wednesday night. “He’s starting to figure out how he can score for us, and that’s good. The main thing we rely on is his defensive ability. But when he’s on offense, and if he has an opportunity to attack the lane, we want him to go. He’s made some good plays at the basket for us.”
Allen’s skills were on full display during Stanford’s 84-74 win at Washington. Explosive drives to the basket. Leaps for rebounds and putbacks that would make Superman take notice. Non-stop energy on both ends of the floor. It added up to a 12-point night—a career-high—and platitudes from his teammates.
“I’m not surprised,” Stefan Nastic said on the Cardinal Sports Network. “That’s what he’s capable of doing. He brings so much energy and effort into everything. He already brings it on defense, so why not bring it on offense? I’m proud of him. He’s an important part of this team.”
Nastic seems happy when Marcus Allen is in the game. I’m always glad to see Marcus Allen take the floor. The Washington State Cougars? They may feel differently. During their first meeting back on January 2, the Cougs had a ten-point lead on the Cardinal at Maples. Stanford looked lethargic, and in desperate need of a second wind.
Enter Mr. Allen. Coming off the bench, he hustled on defense, scored on a couple of his trademark drives to the hoop, and drove Washington State bonkers. In other words, Marcus Allen went full Marcus Allen. Stanford went on to beat the Cougars, with Allen playing a starring role.
Washington State hopes history doesn’t repeat itself in the rematch on Saturday. But now, as a starter, Allen brings the same tenacity, the same vigor that Johnny Dawkins sees as a key ingredient to a team’s fortunes on any given night.
And while Marcus has done his share, he’s not alone in the unsung hero department. Far from it, especially with the contributions that players like Rosco Allen, Robert Cartwright, and Michael Humphrey have made.
It’s good to have star players and key leaders. Stanford has that in Randle, Brown, and Nastic. But what makes a team dangerous are the glue guys, the players who know their roles and fill them well. That is separates good teams from potentially special ones. The kind of teams that people talk about in reverent tones decades after they played.
It also helps if they’re fun to watch. And right now for Stanford, watching Marcus Allen blossom is about as fun as it gets.********** ********** **********
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