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Mizzou lands four-star forward Marcus Allen

The No. 52 prospect was an early priority and provides coach Dennis Gates with a versatile defender and hyper-efficient rim finisher to a potential top-20 class.

High School Basketball: HoopHall West Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Since Marcus Allen earned an offer last April, there was a sense that the forward’s recruitment ultimately boils down to Missouri and hometown Miami.

You won’t be surprised to learn that his connection with associate head coach Charlton Young, who grew up in Miami’s Carol City neighborhood, stretches way back. Allen was only a freshman at Norland High School when Young began recruiting him to Florida State. That relationship endured after Young decamped to coach Dennis Gates’ staff.

The more apt question was whether Allen, rated 31st in 247Sports’ composite when MU offered, would see his stock boom. Instead, it more or less held steady and — as we’ll see — events unfolded in a fashion that kept Allen’s courtship constrained to a handful of programs.

And ultimately, that tilted the odds in the Tigers’ favor when Allen announced his commitment on Monday night via livestream hosted by 247Sports, becoming the second member of the 2024 class and picking MU over the Hurricanes and Stanford. He is also the eighth-best prospect to commit to MU since its move to the SEC, and his blend of length, functional strength, and agility blur the line between the wing and combo forward position.

Assuming Aidan Shaw and Trent Pierce remain in the fold, Allen gives a section of Gates’ roster a similar look and feel to the ones he helped construct in Tallahassee: malleable perimeter defenders able to switch seamlessly at one end and efficient play-finishers — whether around the cup or competent shooting off the catch — at the other.

Mizzou might not be done filling in spots this week, either. By all accounts, Peyton Marshall is highly likely to follow Allen’s lead and commit to the Tigers on Friday. As usual, Sam Snelling will delve into the nitty gritty of roster math, but reeling in Allen and Marshall to go with T.O. Barrett would position MU to just crack the top 20 of the recruiting rankings.

Let’s Meet Marcus Allen

  • From: Miami, Fla.
  • High School: Norland
  • Position: Hybrid
  • Ht/Wt: 6-7/190
  • Rivals Ranking: No. 52
  • 247Composite Ranking: No. 52 (0.9794)
  • Total announced offers: 16
  • Offers to note: Miami, Stanford

Oddly, we haven’t seen a fully optimized Allen at the high school level.

Last season, Allen suited up for AZ Compass Prep, a loaded prep-school outfit that imports talent from the country. While he regularly started, Allen only played 18 minutes per game against teams in the National Interscholastic Basketball conference, a who’s who of hoop factories, and sported a usage rate (14.2%) that underscored a limited role.

Marcus Allen | Hybrid | 6-foot-7, 190 pounds | NIBC

AZ Compass 15 18.1 4.7 3.5 0.9 52.0 29.4 71.0 0.5 0.5

Put simply, there aren’t many touches for us to evaluate. Allen spent quite a bit of time off the ball and seldom had offensive action designed to get him a touch, outside of occasionally posting up a guard caught on a switch. Otherwise, Allen subsisted on baseline and angle cuts or hitting the offensive glass.

Compass’ playbook dabbled in elbow and point series, and Allen might get the occasional chance to work in those actions. But often, he was just a conduit for the ball to flow elsewhere. Yet the ball was passing through. You rarely saw Allen square up a slower defender and attack.

Part of that was by design. Compass pitched Allen on starting out as a steady defender before becoming a focal point as a senior. Then Ed Gipson, the Dragons coach, joined Tim Miles’ staff at San Jose State. Compass was starting over. And for his part, Allen decided to return to Norland.

Once the grassroots season arrived, shots were plentiful. Consider this: Allen logged 50 attempts in 15 games for Compass against top-tier foes. It only took him six with the Florida Rebels to clear that mark. And while the supply of looks was abundant, Allen still found himself — to some extent — waiting in line. The Rebels boasted a pair of top-10 prospects in Karter Knox and Liam McNeely, both of whom play the same position as Allen and creating overlap.

Marcus Allen | Hybrid | EYBL

Florida Rebels 12 21.7 10.4 4.5 2 48.1 18.2 76.7 0.4 0.5

As the clip package abundantly clarifies, Allen sometimes struggled with his shot selection. For example, he only averaged 0.544 points per possession out of spot-ups, ranking in the 27th percentile in the EYBL. That underscores the linchpin in Allen’s long-term potential: will his jumper come online? He only shot 29.4 percent from 3-point range at Compass and 18.2 percent with the Rebels.

Even when he ran the floor for the Rebels, he only graded out (0.827 PPP) as average among EYBL peers. Operating in the mid-post was more fruitful, which is telling. Still, Allen has a track record as a reliable scorer at the rack. He tends to post a gaudy free-throw rate and used the resulting freebies to bump his overall efficiency at Compass (1.082 PPP) and in the EYBL (1.104 PPP) over the last year.

Meanwhile, Allen switched up programs for the July period, joining up with SOH Elite on Under Armor’s circuit. That seven-game sample saw an uptick in Allen’s ball-screen usage and some fleeting glimpses of him in actions MU deploys. He was potent when keeping the game simple: straight-line drives with two dribbles or throttling down just enough to get on balance in pull-ups.

If the tone here seems uncertain, that’s not the intention. Instead, it’s to urge patience. The sample size of Allen powering an offense is small compared to some other players of his ilk. But the tools are there, as are the flashes of Allen putting them to effective use.

His bid for early minutes probably hinges on his ability to guard and rebound. Typically, he draws combo forwards, but he’s at ease switching and checking combo guards and wings. Opponents with shiftier point guards might find hunting Allen to be a poor choice. Off the ball, Allen’s reliable — and I mean that in the best way possible. At worst, he might get caught in some jet wash switching an off-ball screen or shed by a cutter.

MU’s offense should also let him poach some runouts and cuts. If the staff can tighten up his handle, Allen might become a threat hunting from situations Kobe Brown found fruitful: entering the ball at the elbow and letting Allen exploit mismatches while he steadily improves as a catch-and-shoot option.

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