Allen to en­ter draft, but he could re­turn

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By Brian Davis bdavis@states­man.com

Texas fresh­man Jar­rett Allen will en­ter the NBA draft but will not sign with an agent, thereby pre­serv­ing his am­a­teur sta­tus should he de­cide to re­turn, ac­cord­ing to CBS Sports.

A Texas spokesman could not con­firm the re­port as of Tues­day af­ter­noon.

The de­ci­sion wouldn’t be a sur­prise. The NCAA has tweaked the rules to al­low play­ers to go through the NBA scout­ing com­bine and pre­draft process to see where they stand.

In­side the Texas pro­gram, coaches and play­ers weren’t sure which way Allen was lean­ing. Coaches be­lieve he is in­clined to re­turn.

But Allen is surely aware that NBA gen­eral man­agers are en­am­ored with ath­letic 6-foot-11 big men.

The St. Stephen’s prod­uct av­er­aged 13.4 points and 8.4 points last sea­son in 33 games.

His best game came against Kansas’ po­ten­tial NBA lot­tery pick Josh Jackson. Allen had 22 points and 19 re­bounds in 34 min­utes.

“What­ever’s best for my fu­ture. Stay­ing might ben­e­fit me and leav­ing might ben­e­fit me,” Allen said af­ter the Big 12 Tour­na­ment. “I’m go­ing to go home and talk to my fam­ily and see what I can do.”

The Longhorns, who fin­ished a dis­ap­point­ing 11-22, took last week off for spring break and be­gan off­sea­son work­outs Mon­day.

Football: Third-string quar­ter­back Matthew Mer­rick, a player un­likely to see mean­ing­ful play­ing time, has de­cided to leave the pro­gram and fo­cus on his aca­demics, Texas of­fi­cials an­nounced Tues­day.

Mer­rick was third on the depth chart be­hind fresh­man Shane Buechele and in­com­ing fresh­man Sam Eh­linger.

Men’s golf: The Texas men’s golf team shot 276 and fin­ished in a tie for fourth place at the Valspar Col­le­giate in Palm City, Fla., on Tues­day.

Doug Ghim shot a 65 and fin­ished in a tie for fourth to lead the 13th-ranked Longhorns. pres­sure. Af­ter five sea­sons of be­ing the go-to guy, Parker has hap­pily re­lin­quished the job and em­braced a new role.

“Just try and get Kawhi (Leonard) and LA (LaMar­cus Aldridge) rolling early in the game to make sure they’re in the best rhythm as pos­si­ble,” said Parker. “That’s my job right now.”

The Parker of old isn’t gone, just re­served for when needed most. That ex­plo­sive­ness may not al­ways be there like it was dur­ing a 17-game stretch when Parker av­er­aged 13.5 points on 51 per­cent shoot­ing and 5.1 as­sists help­ing the Spurs go 13-4 — but it ap­pears on nights like Sun­day against Sacra­mento.

It’s true the miles Parker racked up af­fected his play, but he couldn’t be more proud of the mileage.

“I feel like I’m blessed,” Parker re­it­er­ated. “Guys have worse (in­juries), you know? Knees, Achilles, stuff like that. I’ve been play­ing for 16 years. All sea­son long for the Spurs, and then all sum­mer in­ter­na­tion­ally. And the way I play, with speed and go­ing into the trees (the paint), get­ting hit so many times and go­ing to the ground so many times, I feel very blessed to still be out there.”

Parker re­called the 201115 stretch when he was the man. The no­tion then was the Spurs couldn’t win un­less he was scor­ing and be­ing ag­gres­sive. “When we went, twice, to the fi­nals, I felt like it was my job,” he said.

Nowa­days, the chatter has re­versed. NBA pun­dits are won­der­ing if Parker is the weak link. Is he too much a li­a­bil­ity on de­fense? Can the Spurs win with Parker go­ing up against the elite point guards: Steph Curry, Russell West­brook, Chris Paul? Can Parker pro­vide the Spurs a lit­tle of what he gave back then to help the team win in the play­offs?

“I don’t fo­cus on what peo­ple think I should do or try to be more ag­gres­sive or what­ever peo­ple are say­ing. I don’t re­ally watch it. I’ve got two kids. I’m busy. I re­ally don’t fo­cus on that . ... I can’t fo­cus on one-on-one matchups with West­brook and Curry be­cause that’s not my job any­more. I just want to try and do what­ever I can to be the best that I can in what­ever Pop wants me to do now.

“It’s not my job any­more to try and be a scorer or try to be ag­gres­sive,” Parker added. “I just have to take what­ever it is for me. Some­times I’ll take three, four shots. Some­times I’ll take 10 shots. It de­pends on the games, and it de­pends on Kawhi and LA, how they’re rolling and stuff like that.”

Parker took those 10 shots against the Kings, as Leonard had an off night (sea­son-low 12 points). He scored 12 of his 16 points in the sec­ond quar­ter, the most points Parker scored in a sin­gle quar­ter this sea­son.

In the win over Hous­ton ear­lier this month, the Rock­ets laid off Parker, giv­ing him space in the cor­ner, and he made them pay by fin­ish­ing a sea­son-best 3-of-6 from three.

“I was just wide open and knocked down shots,” he said af­ter­ward. “That’s my shot in the cor­ner. I’m al­lowed to shoot those. I’m tak­ing those.”

Even with Leonard as­cend­ing as the go-to guy, along with Aldridge at times, Parker is still mak­ing his pres­ence known in other ways. The Spurs are 11-2 this sea­son when Parker has seven or more as­sists, and 8-2 this sea­son when he scores 10 or more points and seven or more as­sists.

“It ob­vi­ously helps if I play well,” said Parker be­fore quickly stay­ing true to his “I try to do what­ever Pop wants” motto.

The Spurs still need their floor gen­eral, though not re­lied on as heav­ily. Parker knows it, too. But he’s at ease now. No pres­sure. Ig­nor­ing any doubters. Em­brac­ing the new chal­lenge of lead­er­ship.

“It’s been two years now,” said Parker. “I love it. I think the evo­lu­tion in any­body’s ca­reer is, as you get older, you have to ad­just to who is the main guys on your team. Try to be a fac­tor just like Manu (Gi­no­bili) did. Just like Timmy (Dun­can) did. I just try and do the same thing.”

Per­haps this ver­sion of Parker is ex­actly what the Spurs need as they con­tinue pur­su­ing cham­pi­onship No. 6.

MATTHEW STOCK­MAN / GETTY IM­AGES

The ex­plo­sive­ness of the Spurs’ Tony Parker may not al­ways be there like it was, but it ap­pears on cer­tain nights when needed.

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