Former Florida Gators basketball player Adam Allen had what had a promising career knocked permanently off-track by a series of knee injuries. In fact, after averaging 10.4 minutes per game and scoring 4.0 points per contest as a freshman back in 2007-08, Allen would not see the floor again as a member of the Orange and Blue until the program’s final home game of the 2010-11 basketball season.
Even then, all he was able to do was dribble the ball up the court as the team led by 25 points, but that was enough.
Just walking the ball up the court in garbage time, in front of an O’Dome filled to the brim with screaming Gators fans – that was enough.
That was enough to put what Adam himself deemed a “storybook ending” to the final chapter of a first love that had been absolutely, irrevocably lost.
[Gamedayr Q&A: Chandler Parsons]
Adam Allen, however, through the hard work and dedication we have come to expect from only the most dedicated of men and women, was not done penning the novel that was his budding basketball career. Despite the surgeries, despite being unable to practice more than two or three times every week and despite the relative lack of fanfare, Allen has returned to the basketball court, going for his a graduate degree from Rollins College.
It has not been easy, nor has it been fun. However, his time at the University of Florida, despite the setbacks that forced him to ride the bench for three years, was not at all lost or wasted. Rather, the coaching staff, his teammates and the rest of Gator Nation helped to forge Allen into the man he is today.
One that is not afraid to put the finishing touches on his storybook.
Alrighty Mr. Allen, let’s just start it off at the beginning. You’re at Rollins now, but you were at Florida. Can you talk about where your mind is at right now? It must be spinning.
“Well, yeah. I’m not going to be able to play at Florida anymore, I have one more year left here, I’m just going to finish out and try to get a job. I really had just given up on basketball pretty much – it’s not like I don’t want to play. I’m not the same player I used to be.
“For me, I had to be 100 percent to be able to compete in the SEC.
“I just kind of wanted to get my degree, try to find a job and move on with my life. I went through a hard time with all of that. I worked for something my whole life and then boom, the doctor tells you one day, ‘You’re done, you’re not going to be able to play’. It’s heart breaking; I went through a little depression. Coach Donovan and the coaching staff really made an effort to treat me like I was playing 15-20 minutes a game, even though I didn’t practice for two years. Florida’s going to always have a special place in my heart, and I will always have respect for them. They wanted to keep me involved with the team and stuff, and I had a great experience with that.”
So you definitely have great memories of Florida, but now you’re moving on to your new team. When did you realize it was going be really possible for you to make a comeback? When in fact you did decide that it was something you were going to be pursuing, how did Rollins become the choice and what’s the news on the team?
“I was playing pick up ball with this kid, Alex Dia and Chandler [Parsons]; [Dia] played at Rollins for four years. He was up in Gainesville visiting Chandler, we were playing pick up ball two or three days in a row and he was like, ‘Dude, why don’t you go back and try to play, you can still play a bit and they have a scholarship at Rollins’.
“I was like, ‘Nah dude I’m done playing, I can only do so much, you can have them call me or whatever, but I’m probably not gonna play though’— Coach Ash called me and sounded like he wanted to treat this guy like the No. 1-recruit in the nation, and I was like I can only play like once every couple of days. I told him about my situation and how my knee is – I can only go hard once every two or three days; I won’t be able to do anything the next day, I would have to ride the bike or do jump shots but I can’t do contact-stuff on it – they made it sound like they really wanted me and convinced me to come down and play in front of them and talk to them.
“So I went down there the next weekend and played pick up ball. I’d love to get my Masters paid for – I don’t really have a career right now – free education, free Masters from a good school, and play with one of my best friends, it’s a perfect situation”
So you’ll be playing with Kyle, what are you getting your masters in?
What do you think of the campus? Give me some differences and similarities between that and Gainesville. Do you feel like you can make Rollins your home?
“Oh, 100-percent, I have a lot of friends and family from the winter park area, I’m really close with Kyle’s family and all his friends, and the people in that area, it’s a beautiful place. My house is a block away from Park Avenue. I walk to class every day, it’s going to be awesome. The campus is beautiful, there’s only 2,000 students, but apparently they have really good boosters and a fan base; the students really care about their school, they have a cool student section, it’s going to be fun, it’s going to be a good fan base, it will have a high school gym feel to it.”
Did you get a chance to go to a game during your visit?
“No, they weren’t playing then. I literally just found out that I’m coming back and trying to play basketball again. So I’ve been trying to get in the gym again, lose weight, and get back into shape. I can only do so much, its frustrating sometimes, but I’m getting there.”
Tell me more about that frustration, what’s the difference between new frustrations and ones back in Gainesville?
“Its different because it’s a different level of basketball. It’s not the SEC – people don’t care about it as much – but my frustrations, as a ball player, I want to work on my game every day, I want to get in shape, I want to push myself to get better. I can only do so much, I can’t play pick up ball every day, I can’t do skill work every day, my knee hurts all the time.”
Are you trying to find a variety of exercises that might be able to help you out?
“I have rehab exercises, weights, I do like leg raises and leg lifts. My knee’s not getting any better, the only thing I can do is strengthen up the muscles around it, like my quad and calf. If you look at my left leg, it’s so much smaller than the right. I really put so much more pressure on my right leg, and I favor it. It’s just a lot smaller. I just need to keep it toned. Down in Miami, I rode the bike a lot. I didn’t think I could do this, but I see flashes of things I can do and I can prove to myself that I can play.”
You were draining threes for Donovan and the Gators, is that what you’ve been working on lately over at Rollins?
“That’s really what I’m going to be doing. Just shooting a lot of threes, my jump shot’s never going leave, it’s just a matter of getting up and down the court.”
Keeping with that ‘up and down the court’ vibe, are you on a different type of diet these days?
“I used to eat five meals a day (Laughing). I never had to worry about anything I ate. Now I only burn so many calories a day. I’ve developed some good eating habits, I eat a good breakfast, I nibble throughout the day. Eat healthy food.”
What do you think about Irving Walker’s taco situation?
“(Laughs) He should’ve probably had some chicken salad. But I can’t say I haven’t munched off of some of those tacos in Gainesville.”
So you’re a late-night grub type of guy? You ever head out to some restaurants also? Say Top or Boca Fiesta?
“Oh man, I love the Top, some of the best burgers ever. Boca Fiesta is good, but Leonardo’s 706, that’s one of my favorite restaurants in Gainesville. We – my family – always go to 706.”
Is that so? Well, Florida Gamedayrs need a food recommendation from the big man.
“Dude, the Chilean sea bass is great. Chicken Mona Lisa pasta dish.”
So you were out and about a bit in college. Who were you hanging out with? What was your social scene like in Gainesville?
“I had a bunch of different social scenes. Since I didn’t play, I probably went out more than I should have (laughs); I had a lot of good relationships. I spent a lot of time with Chandler, etc. Got a house and lived with some other kids. Hung out with Kyle’s family.”
Which sorority should the guys reading this try to hit up?
“Stay away from the DG’s (Delta Gamma) because they get you in trouble. AEPi’s are nice.”
Are you planning on doing the same type of pregame traditions you did at UF?
“Probably around the same thing: Do a pregame shootaround, pregame meal, take a shower, come back to the gym, get some shots up. I don’t know what my routine will be at Rollins. I’ll just have to feel it out. It’s going to be weird playing with 18, 19 year olds. I’m 23. I’ll rock a different knee brace every day. I’ll be the old veteran. I’ll be the Juwan Howard (laughs).”
I’m a huge Juwan fan myself; Can you relate yourself to him or another NBA player?
“Probably compare myself to Matt Harpring and now Boris Diaw. He can shoot threes. That’s probably what I’ll be playing like at Rollins.”
What was it like being a part of the UF experience?
“It’s definitely going to be positive. At Florida, some of the best, top-notch talent. Most of the kids on [Rollins] are smart and good with grades. They know they aren’t going be playing in the NBA, so they focus on school. We have some D1-transfers that have experience. Being at Florida and heading to Rollins is a huge step down, but we’re going be looked up to.
“It’s definitely an advantage. It’s like going from the Lakers to Bobcats. It’s a big difference but I’m going treat it like I’m going play for Florida. I’m trying to prove it to myself that I can play again.”
All that hard work, man. What did you think about the Gators in the Olympics?
“The Gators [performed] ridiculously at the Olympics. It’s crazy how many reps we had at the Olympics. Even though Lochte didn’t do as well as expected, but he still did good.”
“Allie Raisman: Shout out from Adam Allen!”
Adam, I can’t thank you enough for chatting with Gamedayr today. Do you have anything else you’d like to share with Gamedayr and Florida Nation before we let you go?
“Talk about the struggles. People don’t understand how much I love basketball – for me to be able to go back and play ball again is a blessing. Now I get to go to school and play ball again, I’m so excited about it. One of the best things to happen to me. Thankful to go play back again.”
[Gamedayr Q&A: Chandler Parsons]