USF junior guard Corey Allen Jr. remembers it as one of the worst feelings of his life.
He was unable to play Division I basketball straight out of Ritenour High School in Missouri because his ACT scores weren’t high enough. When he realized those scores would delay his dream of reaching Division I, he was crushed.
Allen moved to California shortly after realizing he would have to play basketball at the junior college level. His mother had moved there as he was finishing up high school, and he followed her after his original plan didn’t pan out.
He played two years at Mt. San Antonio College where he said he learned how to be a prepared and hard-working player. He devoted time not only to the gym, but the film room as well.
Under the tutelage of his coaches, Allen spent many late nights staying up watching film and analyzing his opponents. Last season, Allen averaged 21.1 points per game for the Mounties and led the team to the California JUCO State Championship.
“I had a chip on my shoulder because I felt like I was supposed to be a D1 player, but I wasn’t, so I had to work harder to achieve my goal,” he said.
Now, Allen has made a seamless transition to the Bulls, where he started off the season by making the American Athletic Conference Honor Roll and averaging 13.2 points per game. The transition, he said, was easy for him based on what he learned in California.
“Watching film is a big part of college basketball, and that’s really a make-or-break situation for teams,” Allen said.
Allen learned the importance of film study with the Mounties and said it is the most important thing he has learned so far.
“I watch a lot of film now,” Allen said. “I try to break down players and see what they like to do, and what they don’t like to do. I’ve learned in the past that’s how you really beat teams, by dissecting film.”
As Allen’s hard work in the weight room and film room translated to good play on the court, he was noticed by college coaches around the country. USF assistant coach Steve Roccaforte saw Allen play and brought him to the attention of USF coach Stan Heath.
“I wish I could take some credit. Steve Roccaforte did an unbelievable job recruiting him,” Heath said. “He got wind on him, saw him play. I saw some film on him, but he did 95 percent of it.”
Allen chose USF over West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Oregon State. Looking back at the decision, Allen said he thinks the team can go far this season and that picking USF felt right.
“I picked South Florida because I felt comfortable with the coaching staff and the players on my visit,” he said. “I feel like we can be a special team this year with me, the other recruits and the guys coming back. It just felt like the right fit.”
Allen has shown that comfort and experience in his first weeks with the Bulls when he took over the starting shooting guard position.
With junior starting point guard Anthony Collins out for the first week of the season with a knee injury, Allen was put into the role of starting at point guard and leading the team where the Bulls started the season 4-0.
Heath said he knew Allen was good when he recruited him, but even he didn’t expect Allen to be as successful as he has been so far this season.
“Yeah, I am (surprised),” Heath said. “He’s been able to hit the ground running, and hopefully he can sustain that.”
Heath believes there is more to Allen’s hot start than just luck. Heath said Allen is doing all the things he needs to do to stay the course.
“I really think he’s been humble,” he said. “He’s been working extremely hard in the gym and outside of practice to improve himself.”
Along with the coaching staff, Allen’s teammates are also impressed with his success.
“Corey is a terrific athlete. His speed is off the charts too. He just stays on attack mode,” Collins said. “That’s what I like about him. He’s a smart player, and that’s why I enjoy playing with him.”
Now that Allen and Collins are playing together, Allen said the peak of what USF can do has yet to come.
“I love my teammates,” he said. “We’re like a family, and we’re just getting started.”
The Bulls hope Allen can keep up his play and pull them out of a two-game losing streak as they travel to face George Mason in Fairfax, Va. at