Lavoy Allen Interview: On Doug Collins, His Time in France, His Evolving Game and the Song 'Moves Like Jagger'

Lavoy Allen Interview: On Doug Collins, His Time in France, His Evolving Game and the Song 'Moves Like Jagger'

Sixers training camp officially opened last Friday night, with the team getting in its very first practice after the end of the NBA Lockout. Like we did with former Temple standout and current Philadelphia Eagle Jaiquawn Jarrett, we were fortunate enough to catch up with another former Owl, the 76ers' 2011 second round draft pick: Lavoy Allen.

We spoke with the 6-9 power forward just hours after he signed his first professional contract, and approximately 22-hours before the Temple-Villanova game (so treat the time sensitive material accordingly). Topics range from his time with Strasbourg IG in France to his relationship with Doug Collins to his affinity for desserts and Chinese food. [interview below]


Nick: So, you signed your first professional contract today. What was that like?

Lavoy Allen: Feels great. It's my dream to play in the NBA. So now I'm step closer to living my dream.

Nick: How was France?

Lavoy: France was a good time. I played with a good team. Our coach [Vincent Collet] was the coach of the French national team, so he had a lot of knowledge to give us. And I played with a lot of great players, great young players. So it was a good time.

Nick: Alright let's play a little "best and worst." We'll start with best. Best thing about being in France?

Lavoy: Best thing? They have a lot of good desserts, and I'm big on eating, so…

Nick: Worst thing about being in France?

Lavoy: I'd have to say the language barrier. You can't really communicate with everyone out there. You know, some people speak English, but it was really tough.

Nick: Weirdest thing?

Lavoy: Ah…everything is closed on Sundays. Everything. Yeah, you can't do anything.

Nick: It's been eight months since we last saw you in the NCAA tournament. What part of your game is the most different now as compared to then?

Lavoy: I think just being more physical. I put a little weight on, 'cause when I played in France, I played with a couple physical guys. I'd say I'm more aggressive on offense, also.

Nick: After you were drafted, there was a brief time between your selection and when the NBA locked out its players. During that time, did you get any sense from Sixers' coach Doug Collins about what he wanted you to work on?

Lavoy: I didn't get a lot [of time to talk], because after our press conference, he had to go around to talk to the other guys before the lockout started. He left [to meet with them] that night. But he told me…just, to be more aggressive offensively. He likes the way I pass. That's a big thing with this team, sharing the ball. He says I can be a little too "unaggressive" at times, so just to look for my own shot more often.

Nick: Since this is only the first day of camp, I imagine you haven't had much more of a chance to talk him, but what are your first impressions of your new coach?

Lavoy: He's a great coach, and also a great teacher. I've played for some great coaches before like coach Dunphy and coach Collet over in France, and those guys also had a lot of knowledge to share. So I'm just going to prepare for him to be a teacher, and I'm going to try to soak everything in.

Nick: Heading back to the draft, what's your relationship with Nic Vucevic like? You guys have any friendly rivalry at all since you got drafted together?

Lavoy: [laughs] Nah, I mean, I saw him the day after the draft, but this is like our second time seeing each other, because we both went overseas. But he seems like a good guy. He's reserved. And I'm not a big talker, either. So I think we'll get along well.

Nick: What are your impressions of his game right off the bat?

Lavoy: He can shoot the ball. He can definitely score. Yeah, good scorer.

Nick: We talked about coach Collins, but what your old coach? Have you been in contact with coach Dunphy since leaving Temple?

Lavoy: Oh yeah, yeah. I got back from France this past Sunday, and I've been up to school to visit the guys and to work out up there.

Nick: I know you're still pretty close with a lot of guys on the team. Anybody on Twitter can see that. Freshman Anthony Lee finds himself in the same spot you found yourself as a senior, in that both Michael Eric and Scootie Randall are injured and he's playing the role of the lone big guy on the team. Have you talked to him at all? Tried to give him any advice?

Lavoy: I haven't really talked to him. But if I did have something for him, I'd tell him to just be ready to fight with the guys down low. He's going to play against some real physical guys, especially tomorrow. They play Villanova. [Villanova center Mouphtaou] Yarou is definitely a physical guy. I remember that from last year. I'd tell him to just keep competing and to run the floor and to listen to coach Dunphy and to help the team in any way he can.

Nick: He's in a tough spot, trying to balance being aggressive with being responsible. It's the same spot you found yourself in last season. I don't know if you know this or not, but during and after the San Diego State game, you actually trended in Philadelphia on Twitter. And a lot of it was pretty negative. The word "soft" was thrown around quite a bit. Are you aware of those kinds of criticisms about your game?

Lavoy: I've been hearing that since high school, so it's not a surprise. My opinion about…I don't pay too much attention, you know, to what people say. I just pay attention to, like…at the time, I was listening to what the NBA scouts were saying and listening to them. I wasn't really worried about what the public opinion was. And right now the only opinion I'm really worried about is what coach Collins and his assistants think.

Nick: A few years ago, your former teammate Dionte Christmas was in this same spot, trying to make the team out of camp. Have you talked to him at all? Has he given you any advice?

Lavoy: I haven't. I haven't been in contact with him. He's over in Greece. But it might  be a good idea to hit him up. [laughs]

Nick: What are your expectations moving forward? We heard you say earlier that you haven't been given any guarantees, but this is your dream so you're taking your shot. Do you expect to be with this team when the season opens?

Lavoy: Yeah. Yeah, I definitely see myself with this team. I'm going to work every day in practice. I'm going to be physical with the guys. I'm not going to back down. I'm not going to be afraid.

Nick: We've got two more for you and then we'll let you go. We asked one of your fellow Owls Jaiquawn Jarrett these questions when we talked to him in training ca
mp, so we figure we should ask you. Favorite spot to eat on Temple's campus?

Lavoy: Favorite spot to eat would be….Qdoba. No, no, no, no…Master Wok.

Nick: Alright, and we understand athletes tend to listen to music before games.

Lavoy: Yeah.

Nick: What do you listen to?

Lavoy: I listen to a lot of hip hop and rap. Jay-Z, Kanye…

Nick: Give us a specific artist and track. We'll link to it under the interview.

Lavoy: Oh, alright. So like right before the game? Although I like hip rop and rap the best, I also listen to a little bit of pop and rock and all that. So I have to say, um…"Moves like Jagger."

Nick: Lavoy Allen, thanks for time.


In long-awaited NBA debut, Joel Embiid treats Sixers fans to a show

In long-awaited NBA debut, Joel Embiid treats Sixers fans to a show

The crowd erupted as Joel Embiid stepped to the free throw line. They chanted a phrase Embiid has been repeating for the past two years, a fitting welcome to his NBA debut.

“That was great,” Embiid said after the Sixers' 103-97 loss to the Thunder on Wednesday in the season opener (see Instant Replay). “That’s my motto, 'Trust the process.'”

After two years of rehabbing foot injuries, Embiid has his first regular-season game behind him. Embiid scored a team-high 20 points, shooting 6 for 16 from the field, 1 for 3 from long range and 7 for 8 from the line. He also recorded seven rebounds, two blocks, four turnovers and four fouls in over 22 minutes. 

“The beginning I was nervous, but once you make that first shot, it just goes away,” he said. “The fans were so into the game that it was fun. I love having fun.”

Sixers head coach Brett Brown enjoyed watching Embiid on the court as much as the big man liked being on it. Brown has seen the 7-foot-2 center grow and develop during his rehab. Finally, he was able to utilize his versatile skills in a real game setting.

“I can't say this loud enough,” Brown said. “For the city to be rewarded with a player that we all understand has unique gifts, special gifts, for him to go through all the things he has been through and play like he did on opening night, the city deserves it. Most importantly, he deserves it.”

Now that Embiid has been cleared to play, he would like to do so for longer periods of time. He began the preseason at 12 minutes and was increased to 20 in segmented spurts for opening night. Even though he exceeded that limit by over two minutes, Embiid is itching to be cleared to play more extensively. 

“It sucks,” Embiid said. “I feel like I could have played more but you know you’ve got to trust the process, got to trust those guys. If I have my minute restriction at 20 minutes, I guess I’m going to go with that. But obviously I want to play more and more and I think it can help the team better. But they have a plan for me and I’ve got to follow it.”

Embiid has maintained he wants to be a clutch player. Brown looked to him toward the end of the game as the Thunder pulled ahead late in the final quarter. He drained a fadeaway jumper to tie the game at 97 apiece with 50.7 to go. 

Later trailing by four with 10 seconds left, the Sixers went to Embiid. While he was whistled for an offensive foul, Brown was glad to have a go-to unlike in years past. 

“You have a target,” Brown said. “We tried to get the ball to him a lot. … By and large, to have somebody like Joel, where the mystery is solved like, 'What do you do?' You get him the ball as much as you can.”

The more the Sixers found Embiid, the more the Thunder had to try to defend him. Thunder head coach Billy Donovan knew what his team was going up against. He watched Embiid as a high schooler and coached against him during his tenure at Florida. 

“He’s gifted and skilled,” Donovan said. “It was probably our guys' first time seeing him … I knew the talent, the gifts. The one thing with him is, he’s got great footwork. He’s hard to guard because he’s herky-jerky. He moves. He’s got a lot of [Hakeem] Olajuwon to him.”

Opening night had been two years in the making. Even though the Sixers didn't win, the significance of the evening didn't disappoint. 

"I thought this moment was going to be special," Embiid said, "and it was just great."

Best of NBA: Davis' 50 points not enough in Pelicans' loss to Nuggets

Best of NBA: Davis' 50 points not enough in Pelicans' loss to Nuggets

NEW ORLEANS -- Jusuf Nurkic scored 23 points, Will Barton added 22, and the Denver Nuggets survived a dominant performance by Anthony Davis to defeat the New Orleans Pelicans 107-102 in both teams' regular season opener Wednesday night.

Davis had 50 points, 16 rebounds, seven steals, five assists and four blocks. His production helped New Orleans trim a deficit as large as 14 late in the second quarter down to two points in the waning minutes. He simply didn't have enough help.

The rest of the Pelicans combined to shoot 21 of 58. Tim Frazier scored 15 for the Pelicans. E'Twaun Moore added 10 points, but missed a 3-point attempt that could have tied it with 24 seconds left.

Danilo Gallinari scored 15 for Denver and Wilson Chandler added 12 points (see full recap).

Celtics top Nets in Horford's home debut
BOSTON -- Isaiah Thomas had 25 points and nine assists, Jae Crowder added 21 points and Al Horford pitched in 11 in his Boston debut on Wednesday night as the Celtics survived a late scare to beat the Brooklyn Nets 122-117 in their season opener.

Bojan Bogdanovic scored 21 for Brooklyn, including a 3-pointer to make it 120-117 with 47 seconds left after the Nets erased most of a 23-point deficit against the Boston bench. But he missed one with a chance to tie it after Joe Harris intercepted Thomas' cross-court pass, and the Celtics were able to hold on.

Justin Hamilton came off the bench to score 19 points and grab 10 rebounds for the Nets in coach Kenny Atkinson's debut (see full recap).

Turner's opening act leads Pacers past Mavs in OT
INDIANAPOLIS -- Myles Turner scored 30 points, tied his career high with 16 rebounds and made a 3-pointer with 1:18 left in overtime to start an 8-0 run that allowed the Indiana Pacers to close out a 130-121 victory Wednesday night over the Dallas Mavericks.

Three-time All-Star Paul George added 25 points, including another 3 with 55 seconds left to seal Indiana's fifth season-opening win in six years.

Deron Williams scored 25 points, while J.J. Barea and Dirk Nowitzki each added 22 as the Mavs lost their fifth straight in the series. They still haven't won in Indianapolis since February 2014.

Dallas didn't tie the score or take a lead until the fourth quarter, yet still forced overtime when Harrison Barnes' open 3-pointer made it 115-all with 2.3 seconds left.

Turner could have won it with a long buzzer-beating 3, but it bounced off the back of the rim (see full recap).