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After 'Nova and NBA, Malik Allen an entrepreneur

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After 'Nova and NBA, Malik Allen an entrepreneur

As his NBA career was winding to a close, former Villanova star Malik Allen thought long and hard about what he wanted to do next.

Perhaps he could heed the advice of many of his teammates and coaches and get into coaching. Or maybe he could use his basketball knowledge to become a broadcaster. Or he could always follow the path of other ex-athletes and start a foundation or charity.

But, in the end, Allen decided to chart an entirely different course and enter the murkier world of online entrepreneurship. Together, with good friend and former Villanova classmate Joe Rocco, Allen developed a social networking website called inRecruit that he hopes will organize and modernize college basketball’s often chaotic recruiting game.

“At the end of the day, I wanted to do something that made an impact in one way, shape or form,” Allen said. “And I wasn’t sure what it was. Not that coaching wasn’t an option -– and I may still coach at some point –- but when I got into this, I really started to feel passionate about it.

“It’s different. It’s different than what you normally hear athletes doing [after retiring]. I just felt this might be something that would help make a difference. And I wanted to make a difference.”

Allen admitted that some of his old NBA pals have scratched their heads a bit when they’ve heard about his new venture. But it doesn’t take long for them to realize it’s actually a great fit for him. When the Villanova grad was with the Orlando Magic from 2010 to 2011 –- his last stop in an NBA career that spanned a full decade -– some teammates noticed the professional way in which Allen carried himself and said they expected him to own his own business some day.

They just might not have realized how quickly it would happen.

“I was serious about my job,” Allen said. “I had to be because my athleticism wouldn’t carry me for 10 years in the league.”

Allen certainly used his strong work ethic and professional demeanor to forge a successful career in the NBA. After starring for Villanova under Steve Lappas from 1996 to 2000, the 6-foot-10 forward went undrafted in 2000 and began his career in the ABA. But in 2001, Allen was signed by the Miami Heat, where he played for the next four years. He then became a journeyman, suiting up for the Charlotte Bobcats (2005), Chicago Bulls (2005-2007), New Jersey Nets (2007-08), Dallas Mavericks (2008), Milwaukee Bucks (2008-09), Denver Nuggets (2009-10) and Orlando Magic (2010-11).

It was a lot of travel for his wife and two kids, but Allen had some memorable moments along the way, averaging 9.6 points with the Heat in 2002-03 and starting all six playoff games for the Bulls during the 2006 postseason, among many others.

“I loved playing,” Allen said. “The NBA lifestyle is what you make of it, but I loved playing. It always came down to loving to play and compete.

“I miss the game. I miss it every day. But at the same time, I like being able to be at home.”

Allen might have even played longer if not for tearing some tendons in his ankle halfway through the 2010-11 season. It was also around that same time when he began to talk to Rocco about the idea of building an online recruiting community where coaches, parents and high school players could gather -- something that Allen knew could have helped him when he played at Shawnee High School in New Jersey.

And for the past two years, despite having finally settled down with his family near the Villanova campus, Allen is still working long days, this time to help grow a business that’s in its infancy stage.

“The big thing we saw was there were companies out there that were in the space for a while and had some traction,” Allen said. “But there wasn’t really a feeling of much authenticity –- a feeling like you’re actually talking to someone and actually connecting with somebody.”

While there are a lot of places on the Internet you can go to read about blue-chip recruits, Allen and Rocco hope inRecruit can become a good forum for lower-level recruits to connect with the colleges that may be interested in them. And the plan is for it to become a site for not only coaches and players, but also for parents and fans, as well as sportswriters to share recruiting news.

“We live in a world where coaches have to recruit on Facebook, Twitter and now Instagram,” Allen said. “We just wanted to develop a platform that can be alongside that, but in a more professional sort of way.”

Allen and Rocco have shown the beta version of the site to the Villanova coaches, who offered them some feedback. Other colleges like Penn have begun to dip their feet into the water, but coaches from Penn and Villanova both declined to comment because of NCAA rules.

"Right now, the focus is just getting the product out there," Allen said, "and letting people know it's there for them to use and that it's useful."

To be sure, the site certainly has a long way to go and will likely continue to grow and evolve. But in the meantime, Allen has enjoyed applying the same kind of attention to detail he used in the NBA.

And the best part is he still gets to spend some time in a basketball gym.

“I’ll never leave being around the sport,” he said. “I can’t do it.”

Knicks will reportedly reach out to Jay Wright about coaching job

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Knicks will reportedly reach out to Jay Wright about coaching job

Fresh off a second national championship in three years, this was bound to happen. Jay Wright is a hot name. 

And according to the New York Daily News, the Knicks plan on reaching out to Wright about their vacant head coaching job. 

Just don’t expect Wright to be interested. 

The 56-year-old coach has been determined to build Villanova into a powerhouse since he took the head coaching gig way back in 2001 and he’s finally done that. On the surface, maybe some think that would be enough to make him want to take his coaching to the top league in the world. Not so fast. 

In a recent interview with The Athletic, Wright said pretty flatly that he’s staying at Villanova because he loves it there. 

“The NBA does intrigue me,” Wright said. “That challenge is appealing but it’s not worth giving up working with these guys. The whole thing is, to take a new challenge you have to give up what you have. I don’t want to give up what I have. Would I like to coach in the NBA? Yes. But I have to give this up in order to do that, and I don’t see that happening.”

In that interview, Wright talked about his time at Hofstra and quoted Jim Valvano, who once said, ‘Don’t mess with happy.’ That was true at Hofstra until the Villanova job came around, so maybe there’s a chance the Knicks could blow him away. It just doesn’t seem likely. 

The Knicks just fired head coach Jeff Hornacek after a 29-53 record in 2017. The Knicks haven’t had a winning record since 2012-13. 

The New York Daily News cites a source, who said the Knicks believe Wright would be a “perfect candidate for a rebuilding club.” The Knicks might be right, but don’t bet on them getting Wright. 

Jalen Brunson hires agent, declares for NBA draft

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Jalen Brunson hires agent, declares for NBA draft

Villanova is losing its second star player in two days. 

Guard Jalen Brunson has decided to hire an agent and enter the 2018 NBA Draft, he wrote in a letter to Nova Nation on ESPN. He will forego his senior season at Villanova after an incredible college career. 

This news comes a day after his teammate Mikal Bridges announced he will also head to the NBA draft.

“It is with great honor and privilege that I have called Villanova University my home for the past three years,” Brunson wrote in ESPN. “When I decided to commit to Coach Jay Wright and the basketball program, I was driven by three goals: getting my education, competing at the highest level and winning a national championship. While I pride myself on remaining disciplined and focused to achieve these goals, I have grown as a man and have established lifelong relationships with my teammates, classmates, members of the basketball staff, fellow student-athletes and the wonderful educators and administrators of this prestigious university.”

Brunson leaves Villanova as one of the greatest players in Wildcats history, helping lead Villanova to its second national championship in three years. 

The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 18.9 points, 4.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game this season. Brunson was named the Big East Player of the Year and was the Wooden Award and Naismith Award winner this season.