Wichita native R.J. Allen, the son of longtime East basketball coach Ron Allen, was named men’s basketball coach at Newman University on Thursday morning.
Allen has served as an assistant at Newman for the last six seasons and the past two as associate head coach under Mark Potter, who retired after this past season. Allen, a 2002 East graduate who won the Class 6A championship his senior season under his father, also coached at Concordia University, a Division II school in St. Paul, Minn., and Woodbury High School in Minnesota.
“I’ve always been intrigued by the game and the Xs and Os and I can relate that back to being a coach’s kid and growing up in that household and that environment,” R.J. Allen said. “I just really like the different trinkets of the game, like dealing with guys’ pysches and helping them develop and become better basketball players. It was always a goal of mine to develop and eventually become a head coach at the collegiate level and this is an exciting day.”
R.J. Allen said his father has been the most influential along his journey to becoming a head coach. Not only being able to pick his brain at home about why he ran a certain play, but also being able to observe how his father treated his players away from games.
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“This business is a relationship-based business and how you treat people goes a long ways in earning their trust,” R.J. Allen said. “That’s something I’m really big on.”
Allen, who will be the seventh coach in Newman history, said his experience the last two seasons as associate head coach will help ease the transition.
Newman athletic director Vic Trilli believes that experience and his ties locally will help restore the Jets, which finished 9-19 this past season and graduate three of their top four scorers, to the top of the Heartland Conference.
“We’re extremely happy to have R.J. continue as a member of the Newman Athletics family and take the reins of our men’s basketball program,” Trilli said in a news release. “I’m excited to have someone who has called Wichtia home for nearly his entire life in here to continue to build the success and visibility of our program. R.J. has all the tools and relationships to be a successful head coach, and I have no doubt that he will hit the ground running, beginning with filling his coaching staff and completing this year’s recruiting class.”
When it comes to the product on the floor, expect R.J. Allen’s teams to follow the model that his father used to win a pair of state championships at East.
“I’m a believer in playing fast and playing in transition and I’m going to find guys that excel in that,” Allen said. “My focus and my background has been defensively. I like those tough-nosed, blue-collar work ethic guys that are going to get after it, defend it, and rebound it.”
Potter was 331-223 in 19 seasons after reviving the program in 1998. He announced last December his intention to retire, citing health concerns and a decision to expand his work as a motivational speaker.