LAS VEGAS – “I wish deflections were a stat.”
That's not a quote one often hears from top-100 high school prospects, but Dakarai Allen is not quite like anyone else in his class. Allen, a 6-foot-5 swingman from Sheldon (Calif.), is arguably the best defensive player in his class.
He can guard multiple positions, and his length and aggressiveness create nightmares for opponents. On Thursday morning, Allen defended Team Loaded (Va)'s point guard, small forward, and inside-outside big man. Essentially, whichever player was scoring too much, Allen moved over to guard him.
“I just want to stop my man every time,” Allen said. “I want to be there on help-side defense, and also deflect balls.”
Since Allen was younger, he has been a terror defensively. He said his fourth grade AAU coach encouraged him to focus on the defensive end of the floor after Allen was struggling to put the ball in the basket.
“I wasn't good at scoring,” Allen said.
Now, colleges all over the West coast are looking to pick up Allen and immediately improve their team defense. San Diego State, Colorado, Arizona, USC, UCLA, Tennessee, LSU and some other regional schools are in the mix.
He has taken trips to UNLV, UCLA and Pepperdine, with the campuses and facilities of UNLV and UCLA standing out.
Allen isn't ready to name a favorite yet, but one school is making a serious push.
“I really like San Diego State,” he said. “Their coaching staff and playing style.”
Allen is ranked as the No. 17 small forward in the class of 2013.