Arizona Wildcats fans have to thank Uncle Joe for helping Arizona bring Kadeem Allen to the desert.
It was Uncle Joe, head coach Sean Miller’s uncle, that led Miller to recruit Allen.
“I had an Uncle Joe, my dad's brother, who was the long-time high school football coach at New Hanover High School, lived in Wilmington, North Carolina forever,” Miller detailed. “And he passed away a few years back, but Kadeem was one of my Uncle Joe's favorite kids.
“And he called me and told me. And he would get on my dad about, ‘I'm telling you this kid, Kadeem Allen’. And then ironically we knew the coaches at Hutchinson Junior College as well. So I think between those two relationships it allowed us to get in the door.
“But I always came back to that, that knowing where he was from, knowing his family, knowing how far he had come and the great things that people like my uncle and the people in Wilmington, the people at Hutch, they always described him as a great kid and a winner and somebody that was against all odds for a period of time and has really risen.
“And, man, I'll tell you what ... there isn't anybody that I've ever been around that has come further than Kadeem. And right now he's just such a great leader and he's our team's heart and soul.”
Despite being the reigning Junior College Player of the Year, Miller had Allen redshirt in his first year on campus. Miller wasn’t sure how Allen would react to that, but the guard handled it as well as one could realistically expect.
“I always come back to this, but in college basketball, when you walk in and tell a kid, ‘hey, I think it's in your best interest that you redshirt’ and a year earlier he was the National Junior College Player of the Year, that conversation doesn't always go well,” Miller said.
“But in his case, he said ‘if you think that's the best, that's what I'll do.’
“And right now he's two credits from graduating. And his defense, his offense, and it's fun to watch somebody in your own program develop like him.”
Allen has become Arizona’s best perimeter defender this season — and one of the best the program has had in recent years as a whole — as well as the “heart and soul” of an Arizona team that will be playing for the Elite Eight on Thursday.
But none of that would have happened if it wasn’t for Uncle Joe’s eye for talent.
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