Ok so he hasn’t paraded the floor displaying his unique ballerina steps since 2019 when he last played for Science City Jena, but Derrick Allen (201-F-1980, college: Ole Miss)’s signature play is still in everyone’s minds who ever witnessed the 203cm power forward play the game he loved. Time flies is a phrase that is totally accurate when remembering that it has been almost 4 years since he last laced on his sneakers as a professional player with Science City Jena in Germany. He didn’t waste anytime after retiring and got into coaching and began in Germany with Rasta Vechta first as an assistant and then as their head coach. Even if that first experience doesn’t work out, you try try try again. Instead of remaining overseas, he actually returned home to work for the Washington Wizards farm team G-League club Capital City Go Go’s. In the last years, it has become very sexy for ex easyCredit BBL players to coach in the G-League/NBA. Guys like Nathan Peavy, Bryan Bailey, Mike Penberthy, Bryce Taylor, and TJ DiLeo have been some guys who have made the big show off the court. It was a no brainer that when the opportunity arose, that he would jump at the chance. ‘I spoke with Bryce Taylor about his experience with the Indiana Pacers, and I also spoke with Martin Schiller who coached the Salt Lake City Stars for 2 years. They both told me, that it would be a difference experience. But that I would really enjoy it’, stressed Derrick Allen. Derrick Allen has long traded in the ballerina steps as now he has begun a new coaching challenge with the Capital City Go Go’s.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Derrick Allen in his first season with the Deutsche Bank Skyliners in pre season in the BCM in 2007
The American who played 477 easyCredit BBL games and recorded 45 double doubles began his coaching career with Rasta Vechta and was able to learn under rising coach Pedro Calles. He then was appointed assistant coach and worked under Thomas Pach. In March 2021, the club fired Pach and Allen finished and was unable to save a sinking ship that moved down to the Pro A. After 5 loses in a row to begin the 2021-2022 season, he was released. Despite not leaving Vechta with flying colors, he took it in stride and was thankful for the opportunity. ‘ My dream has always been to coach in the NBA. And what better way than to get into the NBA circle of coaches, by getting a great opportunity in the G League. Vechta was a good learning experience, I had the opportunity to coach 8 BBL games. Which we played better as a team. And going into my 1st full year, I thought on paper we picked a pretty good team. But things didn’t work out that way. 3 of my 5 starters were injured at the start of the season. AJ Turner who I thought was going be our best player only played 1 game with us. The biggest thing I learned was Less is More in terms of how I build the roster’, warned Derrick Allen. Allen who was born in Gadsen, Alabama and lived almost 20 years in Europe is back home living in the nations capital and it is only natural that it is nice to be back on home soil even if a lot has changed in 20 years. So much has changed in that time, but for him there has only been one distinct adjustment. ‘I think for me, it’s just getting back into the rat race of American Living. Living in Europe brings sense of slowing things down just in terms of day to day life. Other than this, no real adjustments at all’, added Derrick Allen who believes that ex teammate Quantez Robertson is still good for 25-30 minutes per game in the easyCredit BBL.
It is no secret that having connections is the name of the game for anyone wanting to get a job. Guys like Michael Hakim Jordan were helped because his ex Penn teammate was head coach at Colgate and for TJ DiLeo, he had great ties to the Philadelphia 76ers because his dad Tony had been GM in the past. ‘Yes I did have connections on the NBA side. Ryan Pannone assistant coach of the New Orleans Pelicans reached out to me about the opportunity with the Capital City Go Gos. Ryan and Mike Williams the Go-Go head coach worked together in Erie Bay a few years back’, commented Derrick Allen. Being able to coach for an NBA organization was a no brainer for him. ‘As everyone knows, I was released from Vechta 5-6 games into the season. Initially my 1st option was to look for other head coaching opportunities. I had some talks with teams, but on the final days 2 teams decided to go in another direction with their head coach position. The G League offer kind of came out of nowhere The Go-Gos were looking for a coach who had head coaching experience in Europe. I spoke with Mike Williams the head coach of the Go-Go, we look at the basketball in a lot of similar ways. So it was an easy fit’, expressed Derrick Allen. With the Go Go’s he has 2 other assistant coach colleagues with Arinze Onuake and Barbara Tucker. He has a lot of duties that keeps him busy. ‘I am the 2nd assistant coach, and my job is to focus on our Offense. Bring interesting concepts from the NBA or Europe that I think will help our team. Of course I do a lot of on court development work, and also scouting games as well. We have Landon Tatum who is the Associate head coach, myself Assistant coach, Barbara Turner is an assistant coach. She has worked with the Houston Rockets, and she’s currently an assistant coach with the Atlanta Dream in the summer with the WNBA. Arinze Onuake is our other assistant coach in his 1st year’, said Derrick Allen. It isn’t every day that you can work with a woman as they are very scarce in the coaching scene, but there have been some like Becky Hammon that have made a name for themselves. Back in Frankfurt 15 years ago he worked together with Daphine Bouzikou as a player and now is a colleague with Barbara Tucker. ‘Barbara has been great. She was a great player in the WNBA, and she has a lot of European playing experience in Turkey. She’s a high IQ coach, with a lot of experience as a player and coach’, stated Derrick Allen. It also helps when he sees eye to eye with head coach Mike Williams who could be his younger brother. ‘Mike is great! He’s a young & energetic coach. Mike comes well prepared daily with what he wants to do. He and I have a great working relationship’, stressed Derrick Allen who never watched the sequel to Coming to America because the original is his favorite of all-time.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Derrick Allen in Leverkusen in 2008
The power forward who played 14 seasons in Germany and won 3 titles overall is seeing a totally different game in the G-League than what he saw in Europe. The cliches are that there is no defense played in the G-League and so much more athleticism, but there are more differences. ‘The G League is just a different game. The speed and the athleticism is just so much better than in Europe. I will say European basketball is about game to game Tactics, and IQ. The G league game is 48minutes, and Europe is 40 minutes. Concepts and style of play are different. In the NBA/G League it’s about the players. In Europe it’s about the coaches, then the players’, warned Derrick Allen. Another cliche is that in the G-League players play for stats and the club focuses more on borderline NBA guys. But it isn’t all like that. ‘The G League can be known as a selfish league. But we have a lot of guys who try to play the right way. And to buy into our culture here in Capital City. And yes the focus is on the NBA Assignment players who play with us, to help those guys improve and get back. So they can contribute, and find their way on the NBA level. If that’s with the Wizards or another NBA team’, said Derrick Allen.
This season The ex Euroleague player with Alba Berlin has had the luxury of working closely together with 3 very talented guys with Devin Dotson, Vernon Carey and Isaiah Todd and is trying to get them back to the NBA. ‘Devon is a 2way player, Isaiah & Vernon are NBA assignment guys. All 3 of those guys are very talented players who can do a lot of things. It’s a joy to work with those guys on a daily basis, and see their growth. I hope as the NBA season continues, those 3 guys will get more NBA minutes with the Wizards’, stated Derrick Allen. Working in the G-League is a real challenge to try to help real NBA vets get back and having had a guy like Kris Dunn is the perfect example. ‘Kris is a great player. He had to overcome some injuries over the last year. And Kris came into camp in great shape, and I’m sure we will see Kris in a NBA jersey again this season’, stressed Derrick Allen in January 2023. About a month later, Dunn returned back to the NBA signing with Utah and currently is putting up very solid stats of 11/4/5 and has scored in double figures of 11 of 16 games Even if Allen was the ultimate competitor as a player the focus is all on the player and never on his game and how it worked for him on the court. ‘I am just here to help their development anyway I can. When I’m on the floor with those guys, I’m just in the moment focusing on the task at hand. And not thinking about myself, when I was a young player. Although the guys do ask me, how was I as a player. But I don’t talk about my time as a player’, commented Derrick Allen. It will be interesting to see how he develops further as a coach in the G-League. ‘My biggest goal is just to improve as a coach. Anytime you get fired as a coach, you have to be honest with yourself and figure out what areas do you need to improve. Of course something can be out of the coaches control. But I want to learn the NBA game/concepts. And for me the opportunity to work back in the United States, and learn from the great coaches with have in our organization. Whether that is the Go-Gos or the Wizards’, expressed Derrick Allen. Currently he is battling in the playoffs against Delaware a she is chasing his first coaching title. Even if coaching is his main priority now in life, he will always have the dog in him to want to go on the court and show anyone who’s boss. If you were to ask him in 2023 how he would do against NBA player of the Capital City Go Go’s Vernon Carey in a 1-1 battle, one can only imagine his answer. ‘I am still a competitor, so I would say I would win even at 42 years old. But I guess we will never know’, smiled Derrick Allen.
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