Less than three weeks after fulfilling a lifetime dream and being drafted by his hometown Sixers, Lavoy Allen is now headed to France.
The former Temple star was selected 50th overall by the Sixers in the second round of the NBA draft, but with the ongoing NBA lockout, the 2011-12 season is uncertain. A number of NBA players, including New Jersey Nets star Deron Williams, have already signed overseas contracts with opt-out clauses if the lockout is resolved. Allen is the latest player to take his talents to Europe.
Allen signed a contract with Strasbourg IG in France. The contract includes an opt-out clause if the NBA lockout is resolved. The clause expires in January, which is when the NBA must resolve the lockout in order to salvage its season.
My agent called me with the opportunity and he thinks its the best opportunity for me, Allen said. Its a great team, great city and great coach.
If the lockout is not resolved anytime soon, Allen will leave for France in late August. If the lockout is resolved at some point, Allen doesnt necessarily have to opt out of his contract. Its his option whether or not he wants to stay in France or return to the NBA. But Allen said he will definitely opt out if and when the lockout is resolved.
The NBA is my dream, Allen said, so if the opportunity comes and the lockout ends, I will opt out.
If he does opt out and return to Philadelphia, theres no guarantee the Sixers will sign him. Allen was a second-round pick and therefore is not guaranteed a contract. He will have to attend training camp and earn his roster spot. If he doesnt make the team in training camp, Allen could be sent down to the NBAs Development League, where he would take a significant pay cut from his salary in France.
The D-League hasnt crossed my mind at all, Allen said. Im just going to go in there and hope that I make the team. Im not really worried about the D-League right now.
Strasbourg IG is also known as Strasbourg Illkirch Graffenstaden Basket or SIG. The team plays in the Ligue Nationale de Basketball or the LNB. It competes in the Pro A division, the top division in France. Strasbourg finished tied for 10th place out of 16 teams last season with a 12-18 record.
Moving to a new country and not knowing anyone might be a challenge, but Allen said he is looking forward to being a new country and a new environment, and experiencing that. And competing against other professionals and doing my job to the best of my ability.
I dont really have any fears, he said. I guess the language barrier, but I talked to my old high school coach and he said hell hook me up with some French teachers to teach me the language a little bit.
Since the end of the college season, Allen has been training in Waltham, Mass., at a basketball training facility where he says he has made vast improvements to his game and his body.
Ive pretty much improved at every aspect of my game, Allen said. Im a completely different player from the last game of the tournament to now. When I went to my draft workouts the teams saw how much better I was than the last time they saw me. I have a stronger body. Im in better shape. I have a sharper mind and I keep improving.
A four-year starter at Temple, Allen became the schools all-time leading rebounder. He averaged 11.5 points and 10.7 rebounds per game as a junior, and 11.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game as a senior. Allen helped lead the Owls to three straight Atlantic 10 championships and the third round of the 2011 NCAA tournament.
The lockout puts a damper on Allens NBA future for now, but hes still excited about the chance to play professional basketball in France and about the opportunity that will await him when he returns to Philadelphia.
It does kind of stink a little bit, Allen said about the lockout. But Im still going to be playing basketball, which is something I love to do. It gives me a chance to experience a new culture. Its more of a chance for me to become a man and mature, and Im ready to take on that challenge.
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