Utah basketball’s Timmy Allen is finding success away from his Arizona home

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Utes forward Timmy Allen (1) drives on Oregon State Beavers guard Jarod Lucas (2) as the University of Utah hosts Oregon State, NCAA men's basketball in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020.

Tucson, Ariz. • Timmy Allen is from Mesa, Arizona, which is about 20 minutes from Tempe and Arizona State University, and less than two hours from Tucson and the University of Arizona.

A four-star wing, Allen starred for Red Mountain High School in Mesa as a senior, 247sports.com labeling him the top prospect in the state from the class of 2018.

As his recruitment started to ramp up as a junior, he had a boatload of scholarship offers. In the recruiting world, though, there are offers, and then there are offers where a coaching staff will actually accept a commitment. Arizona, annually in the mix for five-star recruits most positions, never offered. Arizona State, essentially Allen’s hometown school, offered early, but that never progressed to a committable offer.

“What happens as you really get going, there’s a lot of offers that aren’t really offers,” Compton Magic AAU chairman Etop Udo-Ema, who Allen played for for three years, told The Salt Lake Tribune by phone earlier this week. “You might have 30 offers, but when the real recruitment starts, only five or 10 of those are real. Guys commit first, guys commit faster than you, stuff happens all the time.

“Yeah, they offered, they were interested for a while, but they just kind of fell off, so I went in another direction,” Allen said. “It kind of was what it was. I didn't really know why. They were probably looking at someone else, so it is what it is.”

In the end, everything worked out for Allen, who will head back to the desert with the University of Utah this week to face the Wildcats on Thursday night (6:30 p.m., Pac-12 Networks) and the Sun Devils on Saturday night. Allen is the Pac-12’s leading scorer at 20.2 points per game, while acting as the team’s most-capable perimeter defender on most nights.

Udo-Ema, colloquially referred to in the basketball world as ‘Tope,’ remembers how things went down with Allen’s recruitment. Those aforementioned committable offers boiled down to Utah, Iowa State, UCLA, Iowa State and San Diego State. The Cyclones pressed him for an early official visit, but the Utes wound up getting the first visit. He didn’t take another one, committing to Larry Krystkowiak on Sept. 17, 2017, before his senior season began.

Getting his recruitment over with early and not dragging the process through his senior year matched up with Allen’s general disposition.

“I don’t think he cared about any of that,” Udo-Ema said of Allen falling out of favor with Arizona State. “Timmy’s a meat-and-potatoes guy. Low maintenance, no drama, He was just like, ‘Hey, guys, let’s find the right place, let’s find an opportunity. I don’t care where it is.’

“Iowa State didn’t feel right, and I think we knew that. The only hanging fruit was UCLA. That may or may not have been the place or not, but Utah was too good. I’ve been doing this a long time, and I thought he would be very successful there. It was clear to me.”

Regardless of shoe-company affiliation, adidas-sponsored Compton Magic has been one of, if not the preeminent AAU program on the West Coast. To that end, it is worth noting that Krystkowiak and his staff have had a fruitful relationship the last few years with Udo-Ema and his.

In 2018, Compton Magic alum Justin Bibbins came to Salt Lake City as a graduate transfer from Long Beach State, helped lead the Utes to the NIT championship game, and was named All-Pac-12 first team in the process. Another alum, Sedrick Barefield, transferred from SMU to Utah in 2016, scored 1,116 points in three seasons, and was named All-Pac-12 first team as a senior.

Allen, by any metric, is in the middle of an All-Pac-12 type of season, and Udo-Ema hasn’t been far away. He made the trip to Salt Lake City earlier this month to take in the Oregon State game, in which Allen had 25 points and 10 rebounds in an 81-69 win.

Postgame, with the Huntsman Center mostly empty, Allen emerged from the locker room to a smile and a hug from Udo-Ema.

“I remember before I ever got to campus, Justin hit me saying, ‘Whatever you need, I’m here,’” Allen said. “Obviously, I played with Sedrick and he’s one of my best friends. The Compton Magic stuff has been like family. They say that, but it really is.”

Said Krystkowiak: “We’ve got a lot of respect for what those guys do. I think there’s a lot of really solid guys involved and they’ve got the best interest of the kids in mind. We’ve had a good stroke with those guys and that’s all a part of it. Life is all about relationships, and I think it’s worked out well in the instances of those guys.”


At the McKale Center, Tucson, Ariz.

Tipoff: Thursday, 6:30 p.m.

TV: Pac-12 Networks

Radio: ESPN 700AM

Series history: Arizona leads, 34-30

Last meeting: Utah, 83-76 (2019)

About the Utes: Utah is coming off a 91-52 loss to Colorado on Sunday, a game in which it trailed 14-2 at the first media timeout and never recovered … The Utes have lost two straight and three of four. All three of the losses are to ranked teams, then-No. 20 San Diego State, then-No. 4 Oregon, and the Buffaloes, who were ranked 25th at the time, but have since moved up to No. 20 … Timmy Allen continues to lead the Pac-12 in scoring at 20.2 points per game. The sophomore guard scored just seven points on 2-for-11 shooting on Sunday at Colorado … Utah has lost nine straight games in Tucson dating back to a 68-67 win on Dec. 6, 1986 … Lahat Thioune started Sunday in place of Branden Carlson, who had started the previous 13 games he played in. Thioune, who has played a total of 162 minutes this season, finished with two points and three rebounds.

About the Wildcats: Arizona experienced a lost weekend, losing at Oregon and Oregon State to fall to 1-2 in the Pac-12. The Wildcats have lost four of five, five of seven, and are 0-4 against Quadrant 1 teams. The Utes’ NET of 60 represents a Quadrant 2 opportunity … Five-star freshman point guard Nico Mannion leads the Pac-12 in assists at 6.3 per game. Mannion, the sone of former Ute great Pace Mannion, has six games of at least eight assists this season … Mannion is one of three top-40 freshmen buoying the Wildcats. 6-foot-11 four-star forward Zeke Nnaji is shooting 66.2 percent from the floor, which leads the Pac-12. Five-star wing Josh Green is averaging 13.0 points and 5.1 points per game … Arizona is 8-1 at home this season. The one loss is to No. 1 Gonzaga on Dec. 14. The best of the eight wins is against Illinois and its NET of 32.