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Boys Town graduate Teddy ‘T-Sauce’ Allen quickly heating up at West Virginia

Teddy Allen

This article is written by Rich Kaipust, World-Herald staff writer. It was posted on Omaha.com on January 15, 2018.

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins knew from recruiting Teddy Allen and his previous conversations with the player that he was sure of himself. Allen already had a nickname given to him by his future teammates in Morgantown.

It was no surprise then that Allen has been stop-me-if-you-can from the start, or that the Boys Town graduate had never given a thought to having to wait his turn as a freshman.

It may not sound practical to some, considering Allen was coming from the Class C-1 ranks in Nebraska and that he was joining a program that won 28 games and made the NCAA Sweet 16 last season.

"I never thought about that," Allen said. "For me, it wasn't an option. I just knew coming in that I was going to work. I wasn't going to let myself not be there.

"It's up to you. All you got to do is work, and bring what you can bring, and you'll be on the floor."

The result of that focus and belief — and a lot of talent — has put Allen in the thick of Mountaineer operations heading into an ESPN Big Monday game with No. 12 Kansas.

The 6-foot-5 forward was averaging 9.7 points and 3.4 rebounds before two scoreless games last week. He scored at least 14 points in six of the Mountaineers' first 15 games as West Virginia (15-2, 4-1 Big 12) climbed to No. 2 in the Associated Press Top 25, the highest ranking for the program since the 1959-60 season with Jerry West.

Allen started Big 12 play by averaging 19.0 points and making 24 of 34 shots (70.6 percent) in wins over Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Oklahoma — the latter two leading to Big 12 newcomer of the week honors Jan. 8.

"Teddy does not lack for confidence, and I think that's probably the biggest thing," Huggins said. "Teddy's very confident in what he can do, and then once he had some success I think he has more confidence. I think with Teddy, it's all a state of mind."

Allen said he clicked with his future West Virginia teammates during a recruiting visit — when current senior Jevon Carter was his host — and arrived last summer to hear them calling him "Sauce," or "T-Sauce."

"I don't know where they came up with that," Allen said, laughing. "I think it had something to do with how I act, or something. I just run with it."

Allen then stayed with his normal approach to the game, though he knew he wasn't going to be putting up numbers similar to his senior season at Boys Town — when he averaged 31.6 points and 13.0 rebounds a game as a World-Herald All-Nebraska pick.

"I feel like Hugs and the other coaches and my teammates encourage me to always just do what I know how to do," he said. "This is the best players I've ever played with or against, so it was going to be different, but what I do is not going to change. It's what they recruited me to do."

As Boys Town coach Tom Krehbiel has watched Allen drive, slash, absorb contact and score, he nods at what he sees. Krehbiel thought it might take his former star a little longer to settle in at such a high level.

"They have done a tremendous job of defining for him places on the floor where he can score, and he's taken advantage of that," Krehbiel said. "And he's doing the other parts of the game that will keep you on the floor."

Allen also is toeing the line, something he knew would go with playing for Huggins.

When a Jan. 1 game included Allen flexing after one basket and wandering over after another to tell Huggins his defender couldn't guard him, Huggins got his attention by telling him a technical foul would mean sitting two games. As "Teddy Buckets" started to replace "T-Sauce" as his nickname, Huggins took to briefly calling him "Teddy No-Buckets" when he was missing free throws and had a few off practices.

Huggins regularly rides Allen about his shot selection.

But when asked if he has had to remind himself to stay humble as things have started happening for him, Allen said "the team's success is humbling to all of us."

"It just feels like a blessing to be a part of it," Allen said. "It's not just about one person. We wouldn't be here if we just had one person. Everything feels good — the weight room is high energy, practice is high energy, around campus it's high energy — and people are proud of the team.

"Hugs always emphasizes: You're not playing for yourself, you're playing for the people of West Virginia."

Krehbiel said the reports from Huggins and West Virginia associate head coach Larry Harrison have been good. Allen said his two years at Boys Town, after coming from Mesa, Arizona, matured him and prepared him for the discipline necessary at the highest levels of Division I play.

As he was looking at his next step, Allen also wasn't going to shy away from an intense and relentless coach like Huggins.

"I think that's the only way he'd survive, is to have those demands put on him," Krehbiel said. "And, really, that style of coaching doesn't bother him. It even drives him.

"I'm not an easy guy to play for. So Teddy is kind of used to it, and thrives on it, really."

Krehbiel said the Boys Town experience was great for Allen, who arrived in Omaha "stressed out and struggling in life" — and weighing 275 pounds because of some time away from basketball.

"He looked like a bowling pin," Krehbiel said.

But he was an immediate factor after becoming eligible at the semester break his junior year, averaging 26.6 points and 12.3 rebounds a game before his big senior season. He played at 230 pounds his final year and is now 220. Krehbiel said West Virginia wants him around 205 next season and able to defend shooting guards.

Next season is the least of his concerns, though, as West Virginia was stealing the national spotlight before a 72-71 loss Saturday at Texas Tech stopped a 15-game winning streak.

Allen saw a dip in his minutes last week with the return of junior Esa Ahmad from suspension, and foul trouble also hurt him against Baylor. But any letup would go against what put him in position to play — and what West Virginia coaches warned him it would take.

"They said the players here work hard, and we take pride in the fact that we're the hardest working team in the country," Allen said. "To me, that seemed like a way that I can maximize my potential as a player, personally, and compete for a title. If you're the hardest working team in the country, you're going to be there."