Seth Allen happy to be Turgeon's first recruit
Up front, the managers played tour guide, pointing out sights to their attentive passengers in back. For Allen and Turgeon, it was an instructive introduction to an unfamiliar setting.
“It was [Turgeon’s] first time on campus as well,” Allen said Sunday. “We were going on the campus [and] it was too big to walk. People [up front were] telling us what everything was. We stopped at this mall place, rubbed the turtle for good luck. It was fun with [Turgeon]. It was a good time. We have a good relationship. I respect him as a coach and as a person.”
After the campus tour concluded, Allen, his family and friends convened with Turgeon in his office. Player and coach later emerged from Comcast Center forever linked to one another, with Allen becoming the first commitment of Turgeon's Maryland tenure.
“It happened really fast,” Allen said. “But I’m happy the way it happened. I wouldn’t change it. I like that I was the first commitment for Coach Turgeon at Maryland. I like that.”
Allen, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound junior, was also recruited by Central Florida, Clemson, Miami, Mount St. Mary’s, Northeastern, Old Dominion, VCU and Virginia.
While Allen may not have been a household name to Maryland basketball followers before last week, he has been on Turgeon’s radar for quite some time. But long before he became a high-major recruit, Allen’s basketball roots were planted at The Sports Booth Athletic Center in Stafford, Va. Craig Boothe, president and CEO of the facility and head coach of the Hoop Booth AAU program, coached Allen’s older brother Brandon, and met Seth when he was “about nine years old.” Over the next several years, Boothe watched Seth grow from a precocious elementary school player to a prodigious high school talent.
On the circuit last summer, Boothe became convinced Allen had a Division I future. Playing on a bum ankle for much of the season, Allen led Hoop Booth in scoring at “about 20 or 21 points a game” as a 15-year-old playing on a 17-and-under team. Boothe wasn’t certain Allen would be a high-major recruit, however, until this past season at Fredericksburg Christian.
“I saw him play toward the end of the season. He went up with his left, took a 6-5 football player up, switched hands and dunked on him,” Boothe recalled. “It was a major Division I play. I said, ‘OK, I think he’s there.’”
A December game against Montrose Christian first propelled Allen onto the radar of several high-major schools – including Texas A&M. In the Fredericksburg Christian’s 65-48 loss to the Mustangs, Allen scored a team-high 23 points and caught the eye of Aggies assistant coach Scott Spinelli, who relayed his finding to Turgeon.
“During the period when [coaches] can come to the schools, Turgeon came down and watched him go,” Boothe said. “He watched him play against a lot of college guys. He played against men – guys who have played college basketball, or were in college and home for Easter break. Seth showed up and Turgeon offered him a scholarship.”
Allen immediately connected with Turgeon, but spending four years in College Station – nearly 1,400 miles away from Fredericksburg – loomed as a potential impediment to a commitment.
“I knew I wanted to play for him,” Allen said. “I knew my mom probably didn’t want me to go all the way to Texas to play ball, because I’m 16. I’m supposed to be a sophomore in high school right now. My mom didn’t want me to be too far from home. … We were trying to convince my mom. Everybody was fine with it – we were just trying to convince my mom to let me go. It could’ve been a possibility going to Texas A&M.”
Last Monday, hours before Turgeon accepted the Maryland job, Boothe filled in Allen on the latest media reports of the mutual interest between the Terps and Texas A&M’s coach. Boothe said “Seth’s eyes just lit up” when he relayed the news. Allen’s facial expression matched his first thought.
“Wow. I might actually get to play for Coach Turgeon.”
On Tuesday, Turgeon reached out to Boothe and said he was still interested in Allen, and they worked to set up Allen’s unofficial visit to College Park on Saturday. A caravan of Allen’s friends and family – his mother and father in one car, two coaches in another, a brother and his best friend in another, and Allen and another brother in a fourth car – made the drive to Maryland on Saturday morning. Allen said all were impressed by what the university had to offer.
“It’s in the ACC, the best conference in the nation,” Allen said. “It’s Top 15 out of all [public universities]. I can’t really say no. It’s a big no to say no to. So I just made the commitment.”
Boothe thinks Allen will be a great fit for Turgeon’s system. The future Terp is known for his toughness, a quick release on his jumper, and his 40-inch vertical.
“He’s left-handed, he can attack, split screens, and he can definitely cross you over,” Boothe said. “He’s got a lot of quickness right to left, left to right. Once he gets into the paint, it’s all elevation. He can finish with the best. It’s hard to guard him because he’s left-handed. This year, he developed the [killer instinct]. He believes no one in front of him can stop him. And he’s strong enough to force the issue a little bit, take the contact and finish. He’s got that ‘it’ factor.”
Allen said he looks forward to learning his position from Turgeon, a former Kansas point guard. Turgeon wants Allen – who averaged 24 points as a junior – to be a scoring lead guard, a team leader, and a good representative of a new era in Maryland basketball.
“I’m really excited about my commitment. I’m really excited,” Allen said. “It’s a big relief so I can just focus on basketball and getting better.”