Teddy Allen is coming off arguably the most dominant season in junior college basketball at Western Nebraska, as I detailed on Thursday, and the next stop for the 6-foot-5 guard is Lincoln.
To get some more background on what Allen accomplished this season and what he’ll be bringing to Nebraska, I reached out to Western Nebraska coach Cory Fehringer.
Fehringer has had some really talented players come through his program, but he hasn’t seen anyone like Allen in his time at Western Nebraska.
“Due to his size and strength and physicality, his ability to score on the block, score middle game and knock down 3s, he’s really difficult to compare to anybody we’ve seen at this level,” Fehringer said. “Several coaches in the Region IX who have been around for a decade-plus would say that Teddy’s the best player that they’ve seen in this league in their history.”
Allen averaged 31.4 points per game and did it about every way possible. He converted 60.1% of his shots inside the arc (most of which were around the basket), he shot 37.1% from 3 on high volume (7.5 attempts per game) and he shot 88.1% from the free-throw line on even higher volume (9.3 attempts per game), and he did it all while having the ball in his hands most of the time.
“The fact that he scores it the best whether he’s on the block, whether he’s pulling up, whether he’s shooting 3s, whether he’s getting fouled and going to the line, really difficult to say that anybody else is as effective and efficient a scorer as Teddy,” Fehringer said. “His efficiency is just unmatched.”
Allen earned nickname “Teddy Buckets” in high school for his scoring prowess; he’s always found a way to pour in the points at every level he’s played at. One part of his game that has been all over the map is his 3-point shooting, however.
Allen came to Nebraska and enrolled at Boys Town as a junior in high school. He played 17 varsity games that season and shot 41.2% from 3 on 5.7 attempts per game. He more than doubled his total attempts as a senior, bumping it up to an even 8.0 attempts per game, but he only shot 29.9%. As a freshman at West Virginia, he wasn’t given the green light to shoot and attempted just 25 3s in 35 games, making three of them.
This year, Allen shot just over 42% through his first 18 games but ended the season with a big slump, shooting just 27.1% over his last 10. What kind of shooter is he really?
“We’ve had a history of high-level shooters,” Fehringer said. “Dru Kuxhausen just led Division I in 3s made, and then Trent Harris just led the Big Sky in 3s made. Vinnie Shahid was at the top of the Summit League. And Djordje [Dimitrijevic] was really good in the SoCon league. So we’ve typically been fortunate enough to, whether it’s by design or luck, have guys shoot the ball fairly well. Even Martin Roub, we have a 7-foot center at Jacksonville State that shot 45%. So for me, he should have been a 45% shooter for us and maybe even closer to 50, but he has too many attempts that are unnecessary. I would feel comfortable saying he’s a 40-plus-percent shooter.”
Shot selection is definitely something that Allen will have to continue to work on once he arrives in Lincoln. A lot of his struggles as a senior in high school had more to do with the shots he was taking than it did with him losing the ability to shoot. This season, Fehringer was willing to take the trade-off of a few bad shots here and there in an effort to get the most out of Allen this season, even when they didn’t fall at the same rate later in the year.
“I think what we did, for better or for worse, we wanted Teddy to find himself again on the offensive end,” Fehringer said. “At Western Virginia it was a lot of bang it out, slug it out in the post, if you shoot a 3 and miss you’re getting pulled. So every time he would shoot it had to go down or [Bob] Huggins would yank him. He goes to Wichita State and they felt like he was a more capable shooter and they were going to start letting him shoot it more.
“But for us, you saw with Jervay [Green], we really like to take the handcuffs off these kids and say ‘We want you to go out and be special, we want you to go out and play the most confident game that you can play.’ So that was by design for sure with Teddy because he hadn’t played in a competitive game for over a year. His life is basketball, his love is basketball, so we just told him his year at Western Nebraska was going to be spent finding his offensive aggressive mentality again.”
Allen was a terrific scorer in a lot of different ways, and although he’ll pull up for a mid-range jumper every now and then, the majority of his shots came at the rim or from the 3-point line, which should fit in just fine in Hoiberg’s system. The versatility he gives Nebraska as far as the different ways he can score will be a big asset for Hoiberg next season.
“I think Hoiberg is outstanding when it comes to sets, execution, isolations, and for that, Hoiberg is an intelligent enough man and he’s been around high enough level players that he’s going to put Teddy in a space where he can be aggressive or where Teddy can catch and knock down a 3 based upon filling out a back side on a screen-and-roll,” Fehringer said. “I just think Fred’s going to be able to position Teddy — whether he wants him to have the opportunity to knock down a shot or post up or attack downhill off the bounce — where he’s going to allow him to be very effective for the Nebraska Huskers.”
Jervay Green had a rocky first season at Nebraska after spending two years with Fehringer at Western Nebraska, and now he’s in the Transfer Portal. But Fehrninger knew the transition would be tough for Green. Allen, however, is a different story, in large part because of his experience at West Virginia as a freshman (7.0 points in just 11.9 minutes per game).
“Teddy showed as an 18-, 19-year-old that he could be effective in a Power Five league on bright stages against the top teams in the country, whether on the road or at home,” Fehringer said. “He was capable of producing coming out of high school. He’s now two years older and he just spent this last year finding his confidence and attacking, attacking, attacking. Teddy’s competitive nature is second to none. So I don’t think there’s going to be a difficult transition for Teddy to step on the floor and be effective on the offensive end.”
Allen’s path to Nebraska has been a long one filled with tragedy and bad decisions. He’s butted heads with coaches in the past and has let off-court actions impact his basketball career. Allen knows Nebraska could be his last shot, however, and his relationship with Fehringer helped put him in a position to earn that opportunity.
“Teddy is as committed as anybody we’ve ever met when it comes to performing on the basketball floor as an individual and as a team … For him, its win or bust,” Fehringer said. “There is no in-between, there are no moral victories. He’s focused on winning each and every game that he’s playing and he’s driven to be the best player on the floor each and every day — not each and every night as far as the game, each and every day. He’s never late to practice, he’s always on time and he’s always ready to roll. He’s constantly putting in work outside the hours of team functions, whether it be in the weight room or in individual workouts. When it’s basketball related, Teddy’s as committed an athlete as I’ve ever ran into.”
Going the JUCO route backfired for Hoiberg in year one as both Green and Cam Mack were up and down all season. He disciplined both of them at one point or another and both players are moving on after just one year. But Allen has shown Hoiberg enough to give it another try, and if the work ethic he showed Fehringer at Western Nebraska translates to Lincoln, Allen has a chance to help turn things around for Nebraska in 2020-21.
“You’ve got to be a little maniacal in this competitive age in order to be successful, and Teddy’s got that ounce of crazy that drives him to separate himself from the pack,” Fehringer said.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.