Departing from SJSU, Max Allen Embraces the New Challenges and Environment in Poughkeepsie

While the MAAC conference boasts a wealth of tough talent, sophomore transfer Max Allen is determined to maximize his time and leave a lasting impression.

When it comes to collegiate basketball, moving across the nation can involve much more than simply figuring out a new playing style. For Allen, a 6’9″ center for Marist men’s basketball, the move from the desert environment of Las Vegas, to sunny San José, and now to chilly Poughkeepsie, New York, has been an example of Allen’s determination and resilience. 

Allen, a transfer from San José State University, has played on the West Coast most of his life. The center played limited minutes in his freshman season residing in the Mountain West conference with the Spartans, playing in eight games averaging nearly seven minutes on the floor.

The atmosphere surrounding Marist was a major part of why Allen opted for such a drastic change in environment. 

“I just liked the family environment and the coaching staff has treated me like family straight from the get,” said Allen. “From there I had an idea that I wanted to go to Marist. I was already committed. So when I came on the visit, it was just the cherry on top.” 

Not only has this camaraderie and supportive environment impacted his outlook on Marist and his decision to make the switch, but it’s shaped his overall collegiate experience. Allen can be himself and display what he brings to the floor, which makes the transition seamless.

“I’m the guy that’s willing to dive on loose balls and stuff like that, play with a lot of energy,” said Allen. “I’m hoping I just have everybody’s back and just grow as a leader.”

His commitment to carrying out the gritty work is what makes him stand out among the rest, solidifying his position as a vital player on the team. 

Allen, having transferred from the Mountain West conference in San Jose to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) at Marist, is ready for the challenges ahead. 

“The MAAC is a very tough league just because of the physical part of it,” Allen said. “I am just making sure, I’m bringing it every day, every game, just competing like that,”

However, it is not just the challenges on the court that have shaped his journey. The profound impact of his father’s passing resonates deeply within him. 

When asked who has helped shape his career, Allen said, “Definitely my father.” 

“He passed away just today, this is the three-year anniversary… Oct. 25, 2020. That definitely had an impact on my career just mentally,” said Allen. “It also helped me just dig down a little deeper and to keep pushing, and making sure I’m the best I can be, really.” 

Allen showcased the emotional fortitude that has fueled his drive to succeed, both in honor of his father’s legacy and in pursuit of his own aspirations. Allen possesses a resilience that extends beyond the court and into his daily life. 

His father taught him skills that have helped him lead a healthier lifestyle while also sharpening his attention to detail; he has carried these skills over to the basketball court with ease. 

“Patience. Patience. Growing up my dad taught me how to cook. It definitely just taught me in basketball, life is not about being fast, doing everything fast,” said Allen. “It’s about just taking your time, slowing down, and making sure you do the right steps.” 

Allen underlined the deep connection between his culinary skills and his approach to the game. As the new season unfolds, Allen’s focus remains fixed on both personal and team accomplishments. 

“My individual goals, definitely try to get on the all-MAAC first-team, and definitely try to get MAAC Player of the Year,” Allen said. “This is my second year, so I feel like I have a good enough resume, and if I have a good enough year, I have the chance to do it.”

With Marist, Allen plays a crucial role on the Red Foxes. As head coach John Dunne’s only listed center on the roster, he’s racked up a average stat line of 12.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and over 20 minutes in the first two games of the non-conference season.

Allen’s confidence is something that will serve the Red Foxes well as he tries to will them towards winning the MAAC championship and getting them to March Madness, two more of the center’s goals while on the Red Foxes.

While he wasn’t with the Red Foxes last season, he carries a sense of personal motivation, to address any unfinished business with the team.

“This year on the schedule, I look at Iona. I want to get them back for last year,” said Allen. “I’m also really looking forward to the Notre Dame game as well.”

Allen has some games circled on his calendar, presenting some tough matchups. Allen stands at 6’9 and playing the center position may present taller and physical matchups. 

“Physicality, knowing that when I’m on the court, I know I’m usually the strongest one and if I’m not, I’m sure to put up a great fight,” said Allen. “Just making sure I play the game my way.”

At this point in his career, Allen is used to this style of play. Over the course of the season, he’s looking to accomplish much more than just simply dominating his opponents, he is looking to grow his basketball knowledge as Marist looks to find its way back to the MAAC championship.

Edited by Danny Destler, Dan Aulbach and Luke Sassa

Graphic Credit: Jaylen Rizzo, Photos from Marist Athletics

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