After sitting out all season recovering from a torn ACL suffered in high school, Kentucky freshman wing Dontaie Allen was ready to see the floor to close out the year.
Leading up to Kentucky’s regular season finale against Florida, Allen had been practicing and finding his groove with conditioning and learning the system. After seeing how comfortable he was behind the scenes, UK head coach John Calipari was ready to ask the in-state prospect if he was interested in taking the floor in Gainesville.
Down to just seven scholarship players with Ashton Hagans out at Florida, Calipari said on the UK pregame show at the time that if Allen expressed his desire to enter the game, he’d let him.
Calipari says Dontaie Allen could play if needed today
— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) March 7, 2020
The opportunity never presented itself, as the Wildcats managed to pull off the comeback victory in Gainesville without Allen needing to see the floor. The fact that the former four-star wing out of Falmouth, KY was ready to roll, though, has Calipari giddy about what is to come next year.
“Finally, the last month of the season, he started playing at a level with intensity and conditioning that he could’ve played in games,” the Kentucky head coach said. “But it was only the last month of the season. He was still learning plays, spacing, press attacks, zone stuff. He was still learning all that, but he would’ve been able to get in games. I’m not saying playing ten straight minutes, but he could’ve gone in the game and held his own.”
Had it been a bit earlier in the season, Calipari would have been more open to the idea of Allen potentially burning a redshirt. To sacrifice an entire year of eligibility for a game or two, though, just wasn’t something he wanted to entertain.
With an entire offseason to learn the system, build confidence, and improve physically, it’s nothing but clear skies ahead for the former Pendleton County star.
“By the end of the year, [Allen] was in the best spirit to play and wanted to play,” Calipari said. “I kept telling him I didn’t want to use a year of his eligibility for 30 seconds or two games, I won’t do that. Unless you’re telling me, “I just want to play, forget about that, Coach.” Which, he wasn’t going to do. … But I’m excited for him coming back, and I think he’s excited.”
Out of high school, Allen signed with the in-state Kentucky Wildcats over offers from Auburn, Florida, Louisville, Oklahoma, Clemson, and Vanderbilt, among others.
The 6-foot-6 four-star forward was considered the No. 99 prospect in the class of 2019 in the 247Sports Player Rankings.