Jessica Ruiz-5

(Jessica Ruiz / Daily Titan)

On Nov. 23, 2017, Kyle Allman Jr. began his evolution from a rotation player to the star of CSUF men’s basketball when he scored 34 points against the University of Georgia.

For some, it came as a surprise, but for those who have been with him since the midnight training sessions on school nights in middle school, they knew it was only a matter of time.

“He simply dedicated himself to the craft. He was doing workouts at midnight at a gym … midnight on a Friday, midnight on a Tuesday, putting in some extra work,” said the Fullerton guard’s father, Kyle Allman Sr.

Allman was the Titans’ fifth option as a sophomore, averaging 10.2 points per game. By the end of his junior year, he led the Big West conference in scoring at 19.5 points per game and was named the Big West Tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

“I give him a lot of credit for what our program has become just because of his work ethic and his ability to put in the extra work and galvanize the other guys and challenge the other guys to do that. I think it says a tremendous amount about who he is as a young man,” said head coach Dedrique Taylor.

His improved jump shot made all the difference last season. Assistant coach Anthony Santos said Allman’s jumper had been a “work in progress” in previous seasons, but it finally came together when he was a junior. He led the Big West in 3-point percentage at 45.6 percent during conference play last year after shooting 27 percent as a sophomore.

Titans guard Khalil Ahmad said he knew the breakout season was coming based on Allman’s performance in the several summer leagues they played in. Santos did not expect Allman to play the way he did, but he said Allman’s confidence is what took his game to a new level.

“He wanted it, we wanted it for him but we weren’t going to come up with this grand scheme to let him be the guy. He scored within the offense and at the end of the day, the work he put in allowed him to see the success that he saw,” Santos said.

Many, including Taylor, Santos and Allman Sr., attribute Allman’s success to his unwavering work ethic. His father said he likes to think that he is partly responsible for his son’s dedication to his craft.

“He comes from a family that is all dedicated to our respective crafts. He has a mother and father that’s going to work every single day and working hard every single day,” Allman Sr. said.

In the seventh game of the 2018 season, Fullerton traveled to Long Island, New York, to play Hofstra University. As a native to Brooklyn, New York, Allman not only got to play in front of nearly 300 friends and family, but also played against high school teammate Justin Wright-Foreman.

Allman originally wanted to play against a Brooklyn university that didn’t offer him a scholarship so he could score 40 points against them. Instead, he settled with 38 points in his first and final collegiate game in New York.

“It meant everything for all of the other people. Not even so much myself or my wife, but most of the other folks that never get to see him live, that’s what made it that much more important and that special,” Allman Sr. said.

The support Allman received in the Nov. 21 contest was a microcosm of the support he had from his friends and family in New York. After every game, he reposts at least one Instagram story from a supporter watching from home.

In a group chat with two friends from New York and one of their moms, Allman’s mornings are fueled by motivational quotes from the mom every Monday through Friday. On days where he wakes up without his meal of words, he’ll write in the chat “I need that right now.”

“I don’t get to see her every day, so it’s the little things that matter most. We FaceTime here and there throughout the week, but it’s those texts that keep me going and let me know that I still have the support back home,” Allman said.

The family ties don’t end in his hometown. Allman treats Santos like a brother and Santos’ office like his room.

Sometimes, Allman FaceTimes his mother while in the office. Other times, Allman is shoving his phone in the coach’s face for an Instagram story or Santos is reminding the senior that he can’t leave his trash or backpack unattended.

“I’ll walk away and leave him in my office and I’ll just go do something and come back, and he’s gone but I’ll go on my computer and it’s a Fortnite YouTube video,” Santos said.

With every “family,” the good comes with the bad. While Santos may not be a fan of the way Allman treats his office, he said Allman helped him develop a “continuous drive” to improve.

Santos said the main thing Allman taught him is “to get some sleep” because Allman is always calling him to workout.

“There was a time he got in here with me at 6 a.m. before a flight. He will never say no … well, he says no, but he rarely says no,” Allman said.

While dreams of playing in the NBA do exist for Allman, both Santos and the elder Allman said they don’t talk about the future much with him.

Santos said it’s because Allman knows he’ll play somewhere next year, while his father wants the guard to focus on getting his degree.

“I don’t want him focused on, okay you have agents calling you or the NBA, I want him to finish the story. There’s always chapters to a story, and I want him to finish this chapter. He has to get through the books and finish the senior season on the court,” Allman Sr. said.

Allman has two goals this season: return to the NCAA Tournament and get verified on Instagram. While Allman said he believes he should’ve received the verification after leading the Titans to March Madness, he’s hopeful that another tournament berth will deliver the blue check.

At the end of last season, Allman said he was “down” because he didn’t win regular season player of the year. However, that’s not a priority for him this year.

For fellow senior Ahmad, he said one of them should walk away with the award.

“If it’s not me, it should be him. Nobody else in our conference can compare. They always say we’re ‘arguably’ the best backcourt but I think it’s no question,” Ahmad said.

The Titans won 10 games Allman’s freshman year and he led them to a 20-win season his junior year. Fullerton climbed from the bottom of the Big West to one of its premier programs with the postseason MVP. Kyle Allman Jr. has one chapter left to write in one of the most decorated books in the history of CSUF men’s basketball.

“Physically, he has hair on his face now. Literally, he has changed right before our eyes. It’s been fascinating to watch him grow, and develop, and struggle, and triumph. All of the different things that go into a success story, he has those things,” Taylor said.

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