Following in the footsteps of the Philadelphia Eagles less than two months ago, the Philadelphia 76ers have drafted a Temple Owl. With the 50th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Sixers have selected 6'9 power forward Lavoy Allen. This is the first Owl selected by the 76ers since Mark Karcher was chosen 48th overall in 2000.
Allen completed his senior season in March as the all-time leading rebounder in Temple history and one of the greatest Owls in recent memory. LA is a talented rebounder with massive hands and special sense for how and where the ball comes off the rim. Moreover, Allen's stalwart presence under the basket made Temple one of the most consistently solid defensive squads in the country. As coach Fran Dunphy was quoted on NBA.com:
"He's really a good player. I don't know what the NBA guys are thinking of him. Can he be an NBA player? Absolutely. He's the best defensive player position-wise and in terms of understanding of the game I've ever been associated with. I believe he could have a 12-year career in the NBA. He may never start. He's never going to be a drop-dead scorer. But he'll be a solid player."
That all said, the kid obviously isn't perfect and shortcomings do remain. Though he's billed at 225 pounds, Lavoy lacks the clear cut "look" of an NBA player. At 6'9, he certainly has the height and wingspan to compete, but would do himself well to put on some extra muscle in the weight room. On offense, Lavoy has been criticized for being less than assertive in attacking the basket and suffered at times from an inability to convert from the post position. Gaining weight, working on his post moves and finding a tougher mental edge will all benefit Lavoy in the future and hopefully make him a valid candidate for this roster.
Given the above, while Lavoy's place as a Sixer is far from guaranteed, this is a nonetheless special moment for Big 5 and Owls fans alike.
As someone still trying to get over the fact that the Sixers passed on Dionte Christmas out of training camp two years ago, this is more than a little surprising for yours truly. Having watched Lavoy Allen for the last four years at Temple and even remembering him from his high school days at Pennsbury High School, I can tell you Lavoy has come a long, long way.
Regardless of whether or not he makes this roster, I have been and will remain proud of Lavoy Allen. Congratulations, my man. You made it.
Nick Menta is a Temple University Alum