The San Diego State Aztecs are looking forward to one of their most anticipated seasons ever thanks in large part to the great recruiting of the past few years by Steve Fisher. Dakarai Allen, an ESPN four-star recruit from the 2013 class, is one of those exciting young players, but one who will have to work his way into the rotation this year.
Allen will enter this sophomore year looking to make a bigger impact than last year after spending the majority of the season in and out of the rotation. Allen started the season playing double-digit minutes in the first 13 games of the season, but finished with just four in the remaining 23 games. By the time Fisher found his rotation and reached Mountain West play, Allen was on the outside looking in.
Last year he averaged just 2.5 points per game on 41.7 percent shooting from the field and 53.5 percent from the free throw line. He did average 0.6 steals and 0.3 blocks in just over 10 minutes a game. Those defensive stats are encouraging going forward and shows signs of active hands and natural instincts on the defensive end.
Allen fits the mold of a typical Fisher project who started his college career with a lot of raw talent but no particular strength that won him major minutes. However, his athleticism and length at 6-foot-5, along with the guidance of an excellent developmental system, should make him a key to the team’s success down the road.
Unfortunately for Allen, the minutes SDSU loses this year from Xavier Thames and Josh Davis' departures will be heavily filled by proven players like Winston Shepard and Dwayne Polee II. Allen will have to battle for minutes with Matt Shrigley and Aqeel Quinn for wing and backcourt minutes.
One thing going for Allen is the uncertainty of the backup wing position for this Aztec team. Depending on how he improves from last year on offense, including his need for an improved shot, he could force Fisher to give him minutes. Thames played so many minutes at point guard last year that, depending on how it is filled out this year, Polee and Shepard could be forced to take over a lot of ball handling situations opening up minutes for bench players like Allen.
For Allen, he is still a young project, but like last year, should have plenty of opportunity to prove his worth for Fisher for the upcoming year. The most likely scenario however is more of a repeat from last year with him seeing sporadic minutes for the majority of the year. Injuries could open up minutes for Allen but he is going to have to show Fisher that he has value to this potentially dangerous team. This year is all about winning and there will be little patience for fringe players with the depth this team possesses.