Utah basketball player Timmy Allen’s new look reminds coach Larry Krystkowiak of how an actor will gain or lose weight to fit a role. To extend the theme, after shedding 25 pounds during the summer, Allen should have asked makeup artists to make him appear much older.
Ute sophomores Both Gach, Riley Battin and Allen are the not team’s oldest players, but they have by far the most Division I experience, in the absence of former teammates who graduated or transferred. Allen has gone from a quietly emerging player as a member of the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team to a leader of a young roster.
Allen and Gach will represent Utah in next week’s Pac-12 Media Day in San Francisco, chosen partly because the Utes’ only upperclassmen are junior college transfer Alfonso Plummer and former walk-on Marc Reininger. If they had stayed in the program instead of transferring, Donnie Tillman (UNLV) and Jayce Johnson (Marquette) would have been the logical picks. Tillman will be immediately eligible to play for the Rebels, WatchStadium.com reported Tuesday.
Before posing for the 2019-20 team photo last week, Allen laughed when asked if he and Gach wonder how this happened. They do talk about it, though. “We’re not mad,” Allen said. “We’re just embracing what we’ve got. We’ve got some pieces that we can play with and it’s going to be fun, man. … There’s no issues on or off the court, so that’s going to help us.”
Utah’s roster is updated with the 6-foot-6 Allen wearing No. 1, having switched from No. 20 as a freshman. The part that needs revision is his weight, again listed at 210 pounds. He’s noticeably slimmer, not that he ever appeared heavy last season when he averaged 12.2 points on 57.5-percent shooting.
That last number is deceiving, because Allen succeeded as a scorer, not as a shooter. He used strength and creativity to score inside. His offensive role will change somewhat, because the Utes have freshman Branden Carlson as a potential inside scorer and need someone to fill Tillman’s role as a slashing wing player and outside shooter.
“I'll still be in the post, but I'm not going to be banging like that, so I just wanted to be able to move a little freely and get more bounce,” Allen said. “It's not taking away my physicality. I just had to change my diet and get right, basically.”
With 25 fewer pounds, “I feel a lot different; I feel better,” Allen said. “I move a lot quicker, jump higher. I’m happy with what I’ve changed and I’m going to continue to stick to that.”
Allen’s being home in the Arizona heat melted away some of the weight. The bigger factor is a plant-based diet that’s catching on among NBA players and other athletes, as a recent Sports Illustrated story highlighted. SI quoted a 2019 study in the Nutrients scientific journal saying such diets “may present safety and performance advantages for endurance athletes.”
“I need to practice that, by the way,” said the 55-year-old Krystkowiak, patting his stomach.
Allen's sleek body “just allows him to get out in transition,” Krystkowiak said, with the Utes intending to run more in 2019-20.
The next phase of Allen’s development is reworking an outside shooting stroke that resembled a double-pump last season, when he attempted only seven 3-pointers (making four, surprisingly). Allen’s scoring and leadership will be more vital this season. Krystkowiak likes the way he’s going about his job description with actions, not merely talk.