The 2016-17 Arizona Wildcats have one senior: Kadeem Allen.
He’s been the unquestioned leader of this team, but over Christmas, Allen got away from the game to focus on family.
“I called coach on Christmas Eve and just told him like I might not make it back for Christmas,” Allen said. “I might make it back the 26th.”
Why the thought of not leaving his family right away?
His three-month-old daughter.
“From his perspective, I think he wants to do that right, which is awesome to hear,” Sean Miller said about Allen’s phone call. “The point I made to him is simply, the way he’s able to do things right is graduate (two classes remaining) and to finish what he began here at Arizona in the very best way possible and as the leader of our team being here for practices is a tone-setter for the next month or so.”
Genesis, who is living with Kadeem’s family in Wilmington, NC, had not physically been with her father until this past week when Allen traveled home for the break.
“I really didn’t know what it was until I held her and looked into her eyes,” Allen explained of the feelings he had as a new father. “It’s the real thing now. It was different. It was a feeling I’ve never really had before. I have a lot of nieces and nephews, but having my own is different.”
Allen had Facetimed Genesis a lot, but this was a whole new ballgame for him actually being there with her.
“Held a couple tears back, but it was just a good feeling man,” he continued. “I was just happy to be with her and be able to hold her.”
If you’re wondering what Genesis looked like when Kadeem held her for the first time, apparently she has a strong resemblance of her dad.
“A lot,” Kadeem said when asked how much she looks like him. “Yeah (it’s a good thing),” he said through laughs.
“My mom showed me a baby picture and it was like identical, and I was just like that’s crazy.”
Kadeem’s also started Genesis on the basketball track early, having her lay with a basketball and take pictures while he was there.
“She was focused on the ball the whole time,” he joked. “Maybe we have something.”
With his newfound fatherhood, that’s also changed Allen in a lot of ways personally, which could explain why he’s so comfortable being the leader of such a high profile college basketball team.
“I was talking to coach about it, and it was just like a different mindset, a different perspective for me,” said Allen. “Now I really have more fuel to the fire to really play hard, and give it my all.”
“He’s somebody when the going gets tough, in those moments of truth, when you really need a leader to be a leader, he’s going to stand up and try his best,” added Miller. “And he may not be perfect, but everybody understands that.”
Allen has certainly done that time and time again over the past two seasons. And when the Allen clan is in Tucson January 12th for the ASU game, maybe he’ll be able to put on a show for his daughter that’s now fueling that fire.