This is picture of Ray Allen's standing in a dressing room in a blue t shirt. Beside him are the words: Ray Allen's college years.

Ray Allen’s College Years: Learning To Shoot Like A Champion

Ray Allen’s college was the University of Connecticut. He played three seasons for the Huskies progressing from a solid freshman who did not start on a team stacked with NBA talent to a star who was an All American as a junior. Allen’s teams did not make any Final Four appearances but had very strong regular season records. 

What College Did Ray Allen Go To College? 

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Ray Allen went to the University of Connecticut from 1993 to 1996. 

Ray Allen was a military kid growing up. He spent time living in California, Germany, and Oklahoma among other locations. 

The Allen family’s military background shaped Ray’s life in many ways. One of those ways is personal style – Allen earned the nickname the Gentleman because  he had a polite well-mannered presentation that was shaped in part through his family’s military background.

Not being from any one place shaped Allen’s basketball experience as well. He settled in South Carolina for high school and came to dominate on the court. He was Mr. Basketball for the state of South Carolina in his senior season of 1992-1993.

But being someone who has seen the world, Allen knew there were a lot of people out there beyond South Carolina. He did not think that just because he was the best player in his area meant that he’d continue to be the best player wherever he went. 

Allen was drawn to the recruiting style of the head coach of the University of Connecticut: Jim Calhoun. He appreciated that the coach did not promise him the world. 

“Coach [Calhoun] never sold me a bill of goods, saying he was going to make me an NBA player. He didn’t say he was going to get me drafted,” Allen said. “He said I could be good if I did good work.”

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Calhoun had taken over at UConn in the late 1980s after great success at a smaller Division 1 basketball school in Boston: Northeastern. At Northeastern, Calhoun  coached Reggie Lewis to four straight NCAA tournaments. 

He took a few years to turn Connecticut around, but by the time he was recruiting Ray Allen, he had already led the 1990 team to the Elite Eight where they lost a heartbreaker to Christian Laettner and Duke. That season put UConn permanently on the national basketball map. 

Allen committed to UConn and enrolled in the fall of 1993. He credits the players he met there, including departing senior Scott Burrell and his many outstanding teammates, for showing him just how hard a player had to work to become great. 

How Good Was Ray Allen in College? 

Ray Allen was a solid freshman player for UConn on a team stacked with talent and then became a star for the team in his sophomore and junior seasons. 


Ray Allen did not start his freshman year, but was the team’s second leading scorer. The teams Allen’s freshman and sophomore years were stacked with talent. This team featured:

  • Junior forward Donyell Marshall who was one of the best players in the country. He averaged 25 points and 9 rebounds per game and would go on to be the 4th pick in the 1994 NBA Draft. 
  • Junior forward Donny Marshall (yes it was confusing) who would be a future 2nd round pick and played 4 years in the NBA.
  • Junior guard Kevin Ollie who would play 13 seasons in the NBA before returning to coach his alma mater to an NCAA title.
  • Freshman guard Doron Sheffer who was an older player from Israel and won the Big East Rookie of the Year this season. He would get drafted in the 2nd round but chose to play professionally in Israel. 
  • Sophomore center Travis Knight who would go on to play seven years in the NBA, though he was a bit part on the team in Allen’s freshman year. 

With all that talent, it is not surprising Allen did not come in and dominate right away. You can see it in his freshman stats where he put up good, but not dominant numbers.

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That changed his sophomore year when the Huskies returned a strong group featuring all of the names above except Donyell Marshall.

With the team’s leading scorer gone, Ray Allen stepped into that role. Not only did he become a starter, Allen averaged 21 points per game and could well have gone pro that year. 

After considering it, Allen returned for his junior season. He was the focus of every defense he faced as a junior being the preseason Big East Player of the Year. 

Despite that, Allen dominated his junior year. He averaged 23 points per game, was the Big East Player of the Year and a consensus All American.

He finished his career 3rd on the Huskies all time scoring list. Along with women’s team star Rebecca Lobo, Allen was one of the first two players to have their UConn numbers retired in 2019. 

Did Ray Allen Win a College National Championship at UConn? 

Ray Allen never won a national championship at UConn. His team’s lost twice in the Sweet Sixteen and once in the Elite Eight. 

Freshman Year 1993-1994

UConn was completely stacked Allen’s freshman year. They featured Donyell and Donny Marshall, Kevin Ollie, Doron Sheffer, and others. Allen came off the bench, but still managed to contribute in a big way as the team’s 2nd leading scorer. 

With all that talent, it is not a surprise the team went 29-5 (16-2 in the Big East). They won the Big East regular season title and made the NCAA tournament as the #1 seed in the East. 

The team finished 4th in the final AP poll that happens before the tournament begins. 

In the tournament, they defeated a couple lower seeds before being upset by 3rd seeded Florida. The Florida squad went to the Final Four, so they were a strong team. But they were not loaded with NBA talent – Andrew DeClercq was the only player on the team who played in the NBA. 

Sophomore Year 1994-1995

This team was Ray Allen’s best college team. Allen became the center of the team’s offense with the departure of Donyell Marshall who was chosen 4th overall in the 1994 NBA Draft. 

Besides Donyell Marshall, this team returned everyone and still featured multiple future NBA players including Donny Marshall, Kevin Ollie and Travis Knight. 

They went 28-5 (16-2 in the Big East) and finished 8th in the final AP poll. They won the Big East regular season title and were assigned a 2nd seed in the West bracket of the NCAA tournament. 

In the tournament, they defeated some lower seeds before getting past 3rd seeded Maryland in the Sweet Sixteen. They were the 2nd team in UConn history to make the Elite Eight.

Unfortunately for Ray Allen and the boys, they ran into a buzz saw in the Elite Eight. They were defeated by a strong UCLA squad featuring the O’Bannon brothers and Tyus Edney. That UCLA team, coached by Jim Harrick, won the whole thing. 

Junior Year 1995-1996

Ray Allen’s junior year saw the Huskies have an amazing regular season but a slightly disappointing tournament result. 

In hindsight, it is not so surprising. The team had lost Donny Marshall, Kevin Ollie and fellow guard Brian Fair to graduation.

The only NBA player besides Allen was Travis Knight who was still developing as a player and only scored 9 points per game. Doron Sheffer was still there, but this team did not have the overall talent of prior seasons. 

Even still, they went 32-3 in the regular season (17-1 in the Big East) and finished 3rd in the final AP poll. They won both the Big East regular season and tournament titles. 

The Huskies got the #1 seed in the Southeast bracket of the NCAA tournament.

In the tourney, they defeated lower seeds in the first two rounds before being upset by Mississippi State in the Sweet Sixteen. That team featured two future pros: Dontae Jones and Eric Dampier. 

How Many Years Did Ray Allen Play in College? 

Ray Allen played three seasons for the UConn Huskies before declaring for the 1996 NBA Draft after his outstanding junior campaign. 

Allen was the 5th pick in an absolutely stacked draft. Allen Iverson was the top pick after competing with Allen in the Big East at Georgetown. 

Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash were among the stars drafted after Allen. While he cannot claim to have been the best player in his draft class, Allen did become an NBA star.

He is most remembered as being one of the greatest shooters in the history of the league and hitting some of the biggest shots in NBA Finals history. 

Not as many people remember his slashing and rim-attacking style as a young player in Milwaukee alongside the Big Dog

I wrote here that he wasn’t actually that great on defense in the NBA, but I wrote here that he was still pretty incredible overall. 

The results mostly speak for themselves: Allen played 18 seasons in the NBA, won two NBA titles, made 10 All Star teams and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018. 

Summary: Ray Allen’s College Years

Ray Allen played three years for the University of Connecticut where his teams never made a Final Four despite having very strong regular season records. Allen did not start as a freshman but progressed to becoming Big East Player of the Year and an All American as a junior.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Adapted from “Ray Allen” by sportiqe is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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