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JUCO transfer Julian Allen living up to expectations
Eagles set to host Charleston Thursday
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Georgia Southern guard Julian Allen, 24, drives past a Mercer defender in this Herald file photo.
    No wonder Georgia Southern men’s basketball coach Jeff Price has high expectations for Julian Allen.
    The 6-foot-4, 200-pound guard holds a unique distinction — he’s the only First-Team Junior College All-American Price has lured to GSU during his nine-year tenure in Statesboro.
    Allen, who starred at Garden City Community College in Kansas last season, jumped on the Eagles’ radar thanks to GSU assistant coach Elwyn McRoy, a Kansas native who maintains strong ties in the state.
    McRoy, currently in his second season at GSU and lauded for his recruiting ability, made an effort to talk with Allen about the Eagles’ system and how well he would fit. Allen listened and decided Georgia Southern was worthy of a visit.
    “I liked the atmosphere and the players,” Allen said. “(Seniors) Dwayne (Foreman) and Lou (Graham) really took me around. I just fell in love with the program.”
    Price was thrilled the Eagles got a commitment from Allen, the 2006-07 Kansas JUCO player of the year, during the early signing period.
    “Had we not, we probably wouldn’t have gotten him late,” Price said.
    But did Allen, a Waterbury, Conn., native, have any reservations about moving to south Georgia?
    “It’s different in many ways, but I’ve kind of always been away from home and never really been comfortable in one spot,” Allen said. “I thought coming down here would probably be better than being at home.”
    Allen adjusted to Statesboro in no time, securing a spot in the starting five by the season opener. For him, the biggest adjustment initially was learning the system and getting acquainted with the Eagle coaches.
    “Coach Price really expects a lot from me, so I’m just trying my best and getting my feet wet this first year,” he said.
    His best has been pretty good so far — he’s currently the Eagles’ third-leading scorer (9.4 points a game) and rebounder (6.0 rpg). Allen’s reached double figures seven times this year, including each of the last three games.
    He posted back-to-back double-doubles against Rhode Island and Davidson, scoring a career-best 21 points and grabbing a career-tying 10 rebounds against the Wildcats. The Eagles (9-5, 2-2 Southern Conference) will hope for a similar performance as they look to stop a three-game skid with Thursday’s 7:30 p.m. home game against the College of Charleston. Price attributes Allen’s recent upswing in part to playing more aggressive offensively.
    “I think because he’s become more comfortable with what we are doing in transition and in the half-court,” Price said. “And he gets a lot of those off offensive rebounds because he rebounds so well.
    “He has a great work ethic. He’s an extremely hard worker and one of the best rebounders I’ve coached. He’s a really good rebounder from the perimeter and just has a knack to score — that’s the same thing he did in junior college. He’s a really, really good scorer.”
    Agreeing with Price, Allen said his current success on the court is due to a more aggressive approach. He’s also improved his confidence.
    “I’m playing hard all the time instead of just going out there and being scared or worrying about how many points,” said Allen, recognized by a white sweatband around his head on game days. “I just go.”
    “He still, like most transfers, is trying to learn our system,” Price said. “You see some inconsistencies there, but for the most part he’s coming (along) just like we thought. Hopefully he’ll continue to get better as the season goes on.”
    Off the court, Allen, a general studies major, doesn’t draw a lot of attention to himself and is one of the quieter guys on the team.
    “He’s gotten more comfortable as he’s gotten to know everybody,” Price said. “He’s a very humble and good kid that takes care of business and does what he’s supposed to do both on and off the court.”

    Alex Pellegrino can be reached at (912) 489-9413.