Allen committed beyond game NCAA TOURNAMENT GAME 3: ALABAMA VS. PENNSYLVANIA, 7:40 P.M.

March 16, 1995|By Brad Snyder | Brad Snyder,Sun Staff Writer

A Sense of Where You Are.

Bill Bradley had it as a senior at Princeton in 1965, a year after John McPhee wrote the book with that title about the best basketball player in Ivy League history.

Thirty years later, there is another Ivy League basketball star with that sense. His name is Jerome Allen, he plays for Pennsylvania and he's a two-time Ivy League Player of the Year.

Raised by his mother and grandmother in a Philadelphia rowhouse, Allen has a sense of where came from, a sense of what he owes the people who raised him and a sense of where he is today.

That's why Allen chose Penn over traditional basketball powerhouses Massachusetts or Temple.

"I wanted something out of life other than just athletic achievements," Allen told the Sporting News in January. "I hope I'm taking part in something that will benefit society as a whole and urban settings in particular by showing black athletes they can make a serious commitment to academics and still receive exposure. Basketball is just a game and it can become a business, but the odds are against every individual."

The odds were against Allen, especially when he showed up drunk for a Police Athletic League practice when he was 13. But his coach talked with his mother, Janet Nuble, and they straightened Allen out, forcing him to go to church every Sunday. Eventually, they did not have to force him.

Soon, Allen could be found sitting outside the local gym at 6 p.m. doing algebra before a basketball game. That impressed Dan Dougherty, the basketball coach at Episcopal Academy, a Main Line prep school far from Allen's Germantown home.

"We don't get too many like that, with that sense of responsibility, especially as an eighth-grader," Dougherty said.

Allen enrolled the next year at Episcopal. When the Division I scholarship offers started coming in, Temple coach John Chaney told Allen if he didn't go to Temple to stay in Philadelphia.

Allen took Chaney's advice and went to Penn, which has gone to three straight NCAA tournaments since Allen's arrival.

Allen does not score 20, 30 or 40 a night for the Quakers, as Bradley did at Princeton. He averaged 14.5 points last season and 14.1 this season. He is only a 43 percent shooter, 30 percent from three-point range, but he leads the team in assists (157) and is third in rebounds (4.7) and steals (34).

Allen is a finalist for the Wooden Award without big-time scoring statistics because he makes the players around him better. "His intangibles are his leadership skills," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said.

Allen gives to his teammates and his community. He tutors students at a West Philadelphia middle school, and teen-agers from his Germantown neighborhood are always welcome at his apartment. Allen wants them to know that they, too, can end up at Penn.

"I think 13, 14, 15 is really when you set your ways," Allen told the Philadelphia Inquirer last month. "This is where young black males are most vulnerable in the city. . . . These kids, they see a lot of negative things going on around them."

At times, Allen sounds a lot like the politician Bradley has become. For three years, Allen has worked for Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell, but politics, Allen said, is not in his future. If Allen does not make it in the NBA -- where Dunphy says he could be a terrific point guard -- he plans to take his Wharton degree in strategic management into the classroom. He wants to teach in the Philadelphia public school system.

That's Allen sense. Like Bradley's commitment to public service, Allen said he wants to help the community that nurtured him.

"I didn't have a lot of things most kids did," Allen said. "My family provided me with good standards and values, and that's been able to carry me a long way. Now, I want to be able to help them: I want to do something for the young people growing up in the city."

FIVE-POINTERS

Best game: Upset Michigan, 62-60, in Ann Arbor on a miraculous last-second shot by Allen.

Worst game: 81-78 home loss to Canisius to start the season served as a wake-up call that Allen (21 points) cannot carry load by himself.

Style of Play: Small but scrappy, great outside shooting team, deep enough with the addition of Bowman to hand with Alabama.

Key stat: shot 40.7 percent from three point range as a team.

Miscellaneous: The Quakers were 1-3 in the Bif Five this year, losing close games to Temple and Villanova.

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