SALT LAKE CITY — Utah forward Timmy Allen isn’t playing like a true freshman. He’s making quite a successful transition to the college game, having posted two double-doubles in less than a week.
The first was a 21-point, 10-rebound performance in a 78-69 win over Colorado.
“Nothing I didn’t expect. I know I’m fully capable of that,” Allen said. “It obviously felt good — just one in the book — but hopefully many more to come.”
Six days later, Allen did it again. He finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds in Saturday’s 82-64 victory at California.
Entering this week’s home games against Oregon and Oregon State, Allen is among the team leaders in scoring (10.6 points), rebounding (4.9), assists (2.5) and steals (0.7). He’s shooting 55.9 percent from the field.
“It’s pretty surprising how young he is. It’s surprising that he’s a freshman because he doesn’t carry himself like a freshman,” said senior guard Sedrick Barefield. “He carries himself like a vet. He takes care of his body.”
As such, Barefield isn’t surprised with Allen’s success.
“I know how hard he works and how dedicated he is to the game and this team and just being the best he can be and getting to his goals,” Barefield added.
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak noted that Allen, who is 6-foot-6 and weighs 210 pounds, came in a little bit ahead of the curve.
“A lot of time it’s hard to play freshmen because they don’t understand defensively what’s expected. So he’s never been behind in that category,” Krystkowiak said. “He’s never been behind, maybe in a level of physicality, that it requires. He’s had kind of a college-ready body from the time he was in high school. I think that’s helped maybe propel him down the line a little bit.”
Allen credits his weights coach at Red Mountain High in Mesa, Arizona, for preparing him to make the transition to college basketball.
“I think I came in ready and I think I’ve made a big jump since I’ve been here as well,” he said.
Getting accustomed to the mental aspect of the college game, Allen explained, has been the biggest adjustment. Meetings, game plans, scouting and more make it a much different level of play.
“It’s just so much more detailed than high school,” Allen said. “So you really just have to lock into it.”
Things are obviously going well. Allen is on an upward trajectory after being thrown in the fire a little bit, along with fellow freshmen Riley Battin and Both Gach, in terms of playing time.
“He’s been consistent in our practices with his approach, in the classroom, across town — a really mature kid and we’ve known that,” Krystkowiak said. “He’s cut of the right stuff, cut of the right cloth.”
Like Barefield, Krystkowiak doesn’t consider Allen’s success a real big surprise. Even so, he noted things are going to get tough.
“As you start creating a little bit of exposure, a little bit of notoriety for yourself, you move up that opposition scouting report a little bit,” said Krystkowiak, who added that one advantage freshmen have is not everybody has a big sample size as to what it is they do.
“I think that the secret is out a little bit and so it’s important to stay consistent and find some counters to some things and maybe evolve his game even further,” Krystkowiak continued.
Progress is already evident in that regard.
Allen was held to five points and four rebounds in a 70-66 win at Stanford before bouncing back against Cal two days later.
• • •
After his final season with the Compton (Calif.) Magic, an AAU power, Allen committed to Utah. He did so in the fall of 2017 on an official visit that included taking in a football game at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Allen informed Krystkowiak of his decision over breakfast at the Grand America Hotel.
“It was a cool experience,” Allen said. “Something I’m always going to remember.”
Allen chose the Utes over other schools that included Iowa State, San Diego State, Texas Tech and UCLA.
“I was honest with my recruitment. I kept options open,” Allen said. “But when I came here on my official, I knew I wanted to come here.”
Allen, who went on to average 19.2 points and 7.9 rebounds as a high school senior, explained that he was sold on the culture at Utah. He said that Krystkowiak bought into him and so he bought into the coach and his system.
“No regrets for sure,” said Allen, who added that the coaching staff is great and that the team is getting better game by game and practice by practice.
“I know the talented players that came out here and what coach does with the players, how he develops them and gets them to the next level,” Allen said. “So I was obviously locked in on that and I’m just hoping to be one of the greats here.”
Allen is well aware of former Utes like Delon Wright and Kyle Kuzma. As a Phoenix guy, he also knows about ex-Suns star Tom Chambers.
In making his mark, Allen insists he’s not worried about statistics.
“I’m going to get whatever I can get however I can get it,” he said. “Whatever I get, I’m good with.”
• • •
Speaking of the latter, Allen has been “good with” Utah’s other freshmen — Battin and Gach — on the floor. The trio are each playing in excess of 20 minutes per game. Allen has made 16 starts, while Battin and Gach have started 13 and seven times, respectively.
“We’re a close-knit group,” Allen said. “We’re just looking to build something here at the U., and just make something happen here.”
Allen expressed confidence the Utes can win the Pac-12. He noted it will take a lot of hard work, but added that’s not something anyone is scared to do.
Barefield acknowledged the future is bright. He said the program is in good hands with great young talent — and more on the way.
Although Krystkowiak admits “it’s never easy to promise freshmen playing time,” he pointed out that the Utes do have three getting a lot of minutes and thinks “that bodes well” for the program.
There’s always something to work on, though. In Allen’s case, it’s shooting — although Krystkowiak feels he’s capable of hitting open shots.
“That will be one area that he probably looks to expand, probably in the offseason,” said Krystkowiak, who considers Allen “a complete player.”
Allen himself feels like there are a lot of things he can do better. Despite playing good ball and being in a groove with momentum, Allen is determined to improve each game.
“He’s a great player. He’s a dog out there, locks up on defense,” Battin said. “He’s tough as nails and he’s just a definition of a winner. I’m just glad I get to play with him.”
• • •
Oregon (12-8, 3-4)
at Utah (11-8, 5-2)
Thursday, 7 p.m.
Radio: ESPN 700AM