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Former Stanford standout Rosco Allen ’16 sets sights on professional basketball career

Former Stanford forward Rosco Allen led the Cardinal in scoring this past season at 15.6 points per game before declaring for the NBA draft in April. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

Former Stanford forward Rosco Allen led the Cardinal in scoring this past season at 15.6 points per game before declaring for the NBA draft in April. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

Ranging from the castles of Budapest to the Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas to Maples Pavilion, Rosco Allen’s journey to the NBA Summer League has been anything but ordinary. Now, he’s blazed his own trail back to Vegas, where he has a chance to crack the Golden State Warriors’ roster and make Oakland the next stop on his basketball odyssey.

After leading the Cardinal in scoring last season, the former Stanford standout unexpectedly opted to forgo his final year of eligibility to try his hand at the pro game. Although he became the team’s leader during his academic senior season, 2015-16 marked the only season in which he was a full-time starter.

With his degree in hand, Allen ‘16 was faced with a difficult choice: leave the relationships he had forged on campus behind to start his pro career, or return to the Farm for one final shot on the basketball court.

New Stanford head coach Jerod Haase was supportive of Allen throughout his decision-making process, but Allen felt it was the right time to say goodbye to Stanford.

“[Leaving] was tough… I’ve made some really good relationships on and off the court and it was tough leaving them, but I just felt like it was the best decision for me. I had received my degree already and I feel like it was time to start the next chapter of my life.”

Allen attended the 2016 NBA Draft in June. When no teams called his name on draft day, Allen ultimately inked a deal with Golden State to start his professional career and pursue his passion.

“It means everything [to me]. I love this game, and I want to keep playing for as long as I can. It’s just another opportunity for me and I’m trying to make the most of it.”

Allen wasn’t expecting to be drafted, but still wished in the back of his mind that a team would select him. A few unspecified teams had contacted Allen before the draft to offer him spots in the Summer League, but the Warriors had always been the front-runners for Allen’s services. They had sent representatives to many of his games, so Allen always thought Golden State had the “best feel for him” throughout the process.

“I’ve put a lot of hours into the game, and to have this opportunity to play even on a Summer League team, and especially for the Warriors, since I played at Stanford so close, [they were] the team I knew the best, so it was a great experience for me,” Allen said. “It’s a blessing.”

After just one practice, Allen had already noticed how much faster and bigger the players were. Even so, he embraces the challenge as an opportunity to improve his basketball skills.

“It was a great learning experience for me, and I’m looking forward to the next few days to keep getting better and go into Vegas and try and win as many games as possible,” Allen said.

With his future uncertain after Summer League, Allen knows one thing for sure: His family will be there, cheering him on. His parents, grandmother, aunt, uncle and four siblings all still live in Las Vegas, and will attend all of his games this summer.

Allen is excited about their presence because they weren’t always able to make the trek to Palo Alto during his college days.

The family moved from the old city of Budapest to settle in the Nevada desert when Allen was 12. Eventually, he settled at Bishop Gorman High School, a national athletic powerhouse.

His introduction to American culture? The neon lights, strip clubs and fake European landmarks of Sin City.

“The American culture was much different than the Hungarian one,” he said.

In Allen’s hometown of Budapest, the largest city in Hungary, there are real castles and ancient buildings, some over 500 years old. Surprisingly, the modernity was more of a shock than anything to Allen. The scorching Nevada desert heat was also new. Allen wasn’t used to any of it.

However, Allen quickly became grounded in Vegas. There, he carried the Gaels to win three state championships.

Allen’s bilingual roots helped ease his transition into American life. He grew up speaking both English and Hungarian. Allen’s father, Daniel, doesn’t speak Hungarian, so Allen quickly became fluent in both, using English around the house and Hungarian with friends. Math came more easily because of his English knowledge, but there was still an adjustment period.

While he settled in and racked up All-State accolades playing high school ball in Las Vegas, Allen ran into Kevin Durant, the Warriors’ newest star, several times. During his first two years of high school, he saw Durant work out with fellow Thunder All-Star Russell Westbrook, and attended Durant’s camp during his junior year. Later, he worked out with Durant when he came to practice for Team USA.

Allen naturally models himself after Durant, given that they play the same position and have a similar body type. Being the Stanford graduate that he is, he’s trying to be like the greatest in his field.

“He’s extremely talented, so I try to take as many of his skills and try and implement them into my game as possible,” Allen said. “He’s just a tremendous talent, and it’s great to have him on the Warriors.”

Now, he hopes to play behind Durant and two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry on perhaps the most talented team in basketball, an opportunity he would relish should he earn the chance.

“[It would be cool] just to be on the same court as them, being able to learn from them, and being able to try and compete with them,” Allen said. “Obviously, I know that’s kind of one-sided, but just trying to be my best and trying to learn as much as I can from those guys would be an amazing experience.”

At a glance, Allen’s skill set meshes well with the Warriors’ offensive philosophy: space the floor and make a whole lot of 3-pointers. So far, Allen is confident that that should help make his transition to the NBA a little bit smoother.

“Whenever you can space the floor, it translates to every level. Just being able to make space for guys that can really drive and really make plays, but just having the defender being pulled out the perimeter obviously is going to help with that.” Allen said. “I feel like that’s going to be the quickest transition for me — always being a threat and drawing the defender out and trying to allow guys to make plays.”

If Allen doesn’t end up making the Warriors’ roster, he wouldn’t rule out playing overseas.

“I’m just really trying to take this one step at a time,” Allen said. “I’m trying to do my best in Vegas to try and raise my stock and impress some guys. That’s all I’m really focused on right now. Obviously, my agent has been making phone calls and things like that but I’m really not trying to focus on that.”

Allen has traveled a long way for this moment. He’s not going to let it pass by knowing he didn’t give it his all. Now, he’s hoping that what happened in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas.

 

Contact Ben Leonard at bentleonard18 ‘at’ gmail.com.