Of all the players that Bob Huggins has recruited to West Virginia since he took over as head coach in April of 2007, perhaps none has a more impressive pre-college pedigree than the latest prep standout to cast his lot with the Mountaineers.
Earlier this week, Oak Hill Academy guard Bryon Allen became the second player from the Class of 2010 to give Huggins and the Mountaineers a verbal commitment.
By the time he arrives in Morgantown, Allen will have been a three-year starter for head coach Steve Smith's Warriors. To put that in perspective, keep in mind that Oak Hill places a plethora of players in Division I schools each year. The Warriors, annually ranked among the best high school programs in the nation, play a national schedule.
Before coming to Oak Hill, Allen played 15-20 minutes a game for head coach Mike Jones at storied DeMatha High in Hyattsville, Md. When Allen transferred to Oak Hill, the first thing Jones told Smith was that even as a freshman, Allen was always on the court in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line.
With three years under Smith and another under Jones, it's hard to imagine a player being better prepared for college than Allen will be when he sets foot on campus at WVU in 2010.
"He's played an unbelievable schedule in high school," Smith told BlueGoldNews.com on Wednesday afternoon. "He started as a sophomore. He will probably have played 30 some games against Top 25 competition. Obviously that's not the same as playing Top 25 college competition every night, but it's about as close as you can get at this level.
"He's played in two programs (DeMatha and Oak Hill) that are as good as any in the country."
At 6-3 and 210 pounds, Allen already has the body and build that it takes to compete in the rugged Big East on a consistent basis. Smith noted that the junior guard is a weight room warrior. Once he takes the court, Allen puts that strength to good use.
Offensively, the Washington D.C. native uses his strength to get into the lane where he can either pull up for a mid-range jumper, attack the rim, or get the ball to an open teammate under the basket. Oklahoma-bound center Keith "Tiny" Gallon is one of the main benefactors of this latter option.
"He likes to attack the basket," Smith said. "He's really strong with the ball. He doesn't get in there and turn it over like some guards. If he gets in the lane, he makes plays."
Defensively, Allen combines his strength with outstanding quickness to keep the opposition from getting into the lane.
"He's athletic," said the longtime Oak Hill head coach. "He's got good quickness and he's strong. He'll bump you without fouling. He's very physical."
At Oak Hill, Allen spends time running the point, playing off the ball, and playing on the wing. His versatility extends to both ends of the court, as the aforementioned strength and quickness allows him to defend players at both guard positions and even a small forward on occasion.
At WVU, Smith sees his prized pupil continuing to play both guard positions, which should give him a chance to get on the floor early and often in his Mountaineer career.
"I think he could play both guard spots," Smith said. "He could play one and two. They've recruited him as that, a combo-type guard. That helps, particularly early in your college career, that you can play more than one position. It benefits your development."
Allen joins Mountain State Academy standout Noah Cottrill on West Virginia's 2010 commit list. Ironically, the duo squared off earlier this season at the Raleigh County Armory with Allen scoring 21 points to lead Oak Hill to the win.
Cottrill scored 27 for the Falcons in the loss, and afterward drew his fair share of praise from Smith. The pair will meet again in a couple of weeks at Oak Hill.
Smith feels that once they get to Morgantown, Allen and Cottrill will fit together quite well for WVU.
"I think they can definitely play together," Smith said. "He's a lot different than Noah. I think Noah is more of a point, but he shoots it well, which you've got to have at that level. I think both of those guys are guys who can go in there and play. I was impressed with (Cottrill) when we played them."
Allen's only weakness at this point, according to his coach, is consistent perimeter shooting. When the Warriors are in transition, Allen's stroke from the outside is fine. When operating in the half court, however, the junior tends to come up short on some of his outside attempts.
Even when that weakness shows itself, it's still easy to find a strength.
"If he's not making them, he'll drive it at the basket," Smith said. "He's smart enough to know that he needs to drive it at the basket if he's 0-8 from three.
"He's really solid," Smith concluded. "He plays on both ends of the court. He takes pride on playing defense as much as playing offense. He's strong, a real solid type of guard. He's a tank. He's over 200 pounds and he's just a junior. He drives it to the basket. He's unselfish. He has a pretty good feel for the game."
Although the beginning of his WVU career is still roughly a year-and-a-half away, chances are that Allen will be ready when he finally goes get to Morgantown, thanks to his prep pedigree and outstanding skill set.
"I think he fits the way they play," Smith said. "They like him because he's a tough guard. Coach Huggins likes toughness. He'll fit in with what they like to do at West Virginia."