Jarrett Allen on USA Basketball and What's Next for Nets

Start off with the obvious: Jarrett Allen did not get into the barber’s chair during Tuesday afternoon’s visit to Levels Barbershop. The Nets center’s ‘fro remains intact — with maybe a touch-up soon to come from his dad — ensuring that it will remain a go-to source for Ian Eagle wordplay during a season of dunks and blocks from the 21-year-old.

But he did sit down to chat with local kids as dozens of them peppered him with questions before getting their own complimentary cuts courtesy of Allen.

“It’s important to me because I have a lot in my possession,” he said of this third annual event. “I’m an NBA player. I have the dream that a lot of people want to have. So just to give back, show that NBA players care about people outside the basketball is important to me.”

Added Allen: “I always say, looking nice going on the basketball court makes you play better, and then looking nice going back to school makes you study better.”

Sticking with his hairstyle doesn’t mean Allen isn’t experiencing new things. Earlier this month he spent a week with USA Basketball and its Select Team, training with the National Team in Las Vegas in preparation for September’s FIBA World Cup. It was less than a month after Allen participated with the Nets squad at NBA Summer League.

Nets teammate Joe Harris was there was well, initially slated to play for the Select Team before being moved to the National Team, where he eventually earned a roster spot for the World Cup. With San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich coaching the National Team, Allen worked with broadcaster and former NBA coach Jeff Van Gundy, who ran the Select Team.

“It was an amazing experience,” said Allen. “One of a kind experience being under coach Pop, under Van Gundy and just learning from all the guys, even being able to scrimmage against the older guys, they’re doing well right now in Australia. Great experience overall, just tired of Vegas.”

Allen’s Select Team teammates included three teammates from last February’s Rising Stars Game at All-Star weekend, John Collins, Marvin Bagley III and Jaren Jackson Jr. Four other Rising Stars teammates — De’Aaron Fox, Kyle Kuzma, Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum — were with the National Team.

Collins, Fox, Kuzma, Mitchell, and Tatum were all from Allen’s 2017 draft class.

“It was kind of like the All-Star Game, we had all the same type of guys, but it was in a more serious basketball setting, so we actually got to see every guy’s ability, see where everybody’s at,” said Allen. “So it did give me a good gauge for where I am.”

The getting acquainted phase will extend to Allen’s regular season teammates as well after Brooklyn’s big-time summer makeover that brought in Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan and more.

Several of them got together for workouts recently in Los Angeles and Allen said Durant, currently recovering from an Achilles’ injury, has been connecting with the players over dinner. He expects him to be involved and integral part of the team while still off the court.

But Allen also got his first court time with Irving, who will take over as Brooklyn’s point guard.

“Kyrie, he’s good,” said Allen. “I didn’t get to interact with him too much because we were all doing our own thing after the workouts, but from what I can tell, hard worker, good guy, and ready to be a Net.”

It’s the arrival of Jordan, a three-time All-NBA center from 2015 through 2017, who will have the most direct impact on Allen. Allen, Brooklyn’s starting center since midway through his rookie season, has said he would like to remain in that spot, but said Tuesday he’s prepared to do whatever the team needs, including sliding to the 4 to play alongside Jordan.

Allen had a bountiful partnership with a veteran mentor in Ed Davis last season, and expects the same with Jordan, who he said was helpful with advice during their Los Angeles workouts.

“If it does evolve a little bit he hasn’t really had time to be around,” said Allen. “I respect the guy but I don’t know him that well to be under his wing. But I can see that he knows a lot, so I’m ready to learn from whatever he can give me.”

With the new faces, Allen is aiming for the same destination. He concluded his second NBA season with a trip to the NBA playoffs after Brooklyn’s 14-win improvement to a 42-win season. Now that he’s had the experience, he doesn’t want to let go of it.

“I didn’t really get when people say, before the playoffs, I didn’t get why people say oh the playoffs are addicting,” said Allen. “But I went through it. I played and thought, this is kind of nice. But now that the summer is here, man, I want to be back. I finally get what the itch that people are talking about is.”