A LEGEND LEAVES, BUT A PROPITIOUS FUTURE LIES AHEAD
After 19 years at the helm of the men’s basketball program at Newman, former player and all-time winningest Newman coach Mark Potter announced his retirement. When someone as impactful as Potter leaves, the challenge to find a proper replacement is formidable.
Looking high and low, doing interview after interview, Athletic Director Vic Trilli finally realized that maybe he didn’t have to look so far to find the perfect fit.
After serving for six seasons as the top assistant for the Jets, R.J. Allen was named the head men’s basketball coach on April 6, 2017. A Wichita native and graduate of Wichita East High School, Allen is looking forward to taking over the only private NCAA Division II program in the state of Kansas.
Allen brought on a friend from the profession, Jamahl DePriest, as his assistant coach. DePriest was assistant men’s basketball coach at Missouri Southern State University and looks forward to working with Allen.
“He is a very hard worker and he’s going to be a great head coach,” said DePriest. “I know he has high expectations for the program like I do.”
At Wichita East High School, Allen played basketball for his dad and longtime Aces coach, Ron Allen. He was a two-time all-city and all-state selection, leading the Aces to a 6A state championship in 2002. He then went to Hutchinson Community College where he was named a team captain and led the Blue Dragons to a KJCCC championship with a 30-3 record in 2003-2004.
After acquiring his associate’s degree from Hutchinson, Allen began a seven-year stay as a player and coach at Division II Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota, from 2004 to 2011.
Allen helped guide the Golden Bears to their first 20-win season in 2006-2007, earning a 21-8 record and a third-place finish in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, still the Bears’ best conference finish in 17 years as a member of Division II. Allen was also responsible for recruiting and developing five NSIC All-Conference players at Concordia University.
BACK TO HIS ROOTS
Allen returned to his hometown when Potter hired him as an assistant in 2011. Allen credits Potter for taking him under his wing and helping him become the coach he is today.
“I’m thankful for Head Coach Mark Potter for giving me a chance five and a half years ago,” Allen said. “I’ve learned a ton from him and look forward to building on what this program has been built on.”
In his six seasons as an assistant at Newman, including the past two as associate head coach, Allen helped the Jets to 88 victories, four trips to the Heartland Conference postseason tournament, and the team’s first NCAA tournament berth after a 20-8 season in 2012-2013.
“In a day and age where you don’t know who to trust and who not to, you can 100 percent trust Coach Allen to absolutely represent this university in the way you want,” said Potter. “And so as the former basketball coach and more importantly as an alum, I am really proud of the fact that he’s the basketball coach.”
JETS WILL SOAR
To Allen, there is more to coaching than the wins and losses. He wants to be a role model and leader for his team and help them develop personally. Allen plans to make a priority of coaching his team to become quality individuals, not just quality players.
Allen said, “One of the things I want to make sure we continue to do is instill integrity, honor and character in the young men we coach.”
Allen and DePriest look forward to mixing the valuable experience returning players will bring with the young talent coming in. With backgrounds in recruiting, the duo has brought several promising players to the team, most all-staters or all-conference guys. With new coaches and such a young team, Allen knows there will be a lot of learning for both the players and coaches. There will be bumps and bruises early on but he has lots of faith in the talent of the team.
The two have been busy scouting, watching film and planning for the upcoming season. DePriest foresees fast-paced games, a style he believes both fans and players will enjoy. He noted that he would focus on defense while Allen focuses more on offense and the two will collaborate. However, both coaches are defensive-minded and hope to set a “defense first” mindset with the team.