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Arizona basketball: Wildcats land versatile JC guard Kadeem Allen

Kadeem Allen was a junior college All-American last season. Photo courtesy of Hutchinson Community College.

Kadeem Allen was a junior college All-American last season. Photo courtesy of Hutchinson Community College.

The way Jay Cyriac recalls it, VCU basketball coach Shaka Smart was the first to realize the potential in guard Kadeem Allen.

“He was smart enough to offer Kadeem when he saw him,” said Cyriac, an assistant coach at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College.

“Unfortunately for him, Kadeem got too good.”

Allen, from Wilmington, N.C., didn’t go straight from high school to VCU or any other college because of academics, landing at Hutchinson last fall and becoming so good that he was a junior college All-American as a freshman, becoming so good that Arizona coach Sean Miller offered a scholarship last spring, becoming so good that he had a chance to mull an offer from Kansas.

After taking an official visit to Arizona last weekend, Allen committed to the Wildcats.

Miller is getting a 6-3 combo guard who can fill many roles, offensively and defensively. He averaged 17.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists and nearly one block per game last season.

“He’ll play both guard spots for us, but to be honest, he’s just a player,” Cyriac said.

Allen also averaged 2.5 steals per game.

“He’s long and he gets his hand on a lot of basketballs,” Cyriac said. “He just has a knack for it. It’s almost like a shark honing in when guys are coming down with the ball. You can just see it in his eyes.”

Miller and assistant coach Damon Stoudamire visited Allen in Kansas in recent weeks before the guard took his trip to Tucson.

“He thought it was a perfect fit,” Cyriac said.

Allen boosted his stock after one season at Hutchinson, which landed him after Cyriac got a tip from Dave Telep, the former national recruiting analyst for ESPN.com and a good friend of Cyriac’s.

“He was driving down to Wilmington and he calls me and says there’s this kid down there who is supposed to be unbelievable,” Cyriac said.

Cyriac eventually went to watch Allen multiple times back when VCU, East Carolina and others showed interest. This time around, Allen picked the Cats over Kansas and Cincinnati.

He’s not Arizona’s first recruit from Hutchinson. Lute Olson brought in post player Ben Davis from there in the 1994 class; Davis had college stops at Kansas and Florida before Hutchinson.

Allen is the third recruit in Miller’s 2014 class, joining point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright and power forward Craig Victor.

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