As a Temple undergrad and avid college basketball fan, I was as surprised as anyone when the Sixers selected Lavoy Allen with the 50th pick in the 2011 draft. Contrary to popular belief, Allen wasn't always a fan favorite around campus. He was often deemed by Owls fans as lazy and nonaggressive. Don't get me wrong, Allen was certainly a nice college basketball player and was a critical part of Fran Dunphy's squad all four years he played, but many Owl fans never considered North Philly as "Allen's Town," as the university liked to proclaim. Instead, players like Juan Fernandez and Ramone Moore were often more popular around campus. While Lavoy undoubtedly deserved a shot to make it in the NBA, I thought the Sixers could have easily invited him to training camp as an undrafted free agent, much like they did with Steve Smith of Lasalle in 2006. ESPN even went as far as to name Allen the worst player in the NBA in their preseason rankings. (Which doing so before the guy ever stepped foot into an NBA regular season game was completely ridiculous)
While many fans and critics believed that Allen was best declaring for the draft after his junior year at Temple, in which he posted a much better field goal percentage and averaged two more rebounds per game than his senior year, I'm elated to see Lavoy proving the naysayers (including myself) wrong. His first five games in a Sixers uniform are reminiscent to the way he played his junior year, arguably his best year at Temple. He appears to be playing with more energy, confidence, and aggression. Quite frankly, he looks like a player worthy of being a second round pick. Granted, his recent increase in playing time has mainly been due to the absences of Spencer Hawes and Nik Vucevic. However, Allen's solid work may have earned him some more minutes even when they return to action, instead of being restricted to mop-up duty like he was before they went down with injuries. While most Sixers fans know him as the guy that won them free Big Mac's against the Wizards on Monday, it was his pass to Thad Young near the basket that resulted in a three-point play that brought me to my feet. Maybe it's Doug Collins ability to motivate young players, or maybe it's Lavoy simply trying to prove his critics wrong. Either way, with just five games under his belt, Allen has left me wanting to watch him play more now than he ever did during his four years as an Owl.