Lincoln North Star’s Josiah Allick has the big hair that Matt Hill made fashionable in the mid-2000s as a 6-foot-10 first-team Super-State boys basketball player at Lincoln Southeast, later taking the look to Texas as part of a Longhorn recruiting class that included Kevin Durant.
At 6-7, Allick’s game is now also starting to resemble Hill’s in a remarkable transformation for the Navigator senior. In three years, Allick has gone from a 5-10 backup post player on North Star’s freshman team to a multifaceted forward as a senior who is now starting to attract recruiting interest from mid-major Division I college programs.
On Tuesday, Idaho came to Lincoln to watch him practice.
Allick never saw Hill play basketball, but he’s seen photos of the former Knight who was on North Star coach Tony Quattrocchi’s junior varsity team at Southeast as a freshman, a year before Quattrocchi came to North Star as head coach when the school opened in 2003.
“I definitely like the look he had,” Allick said of Hill, who ditched the long, bushy, curly hairstyle midway through his career at Texas. Hill is now the tall guy in short hair sitting on the Atlanta Hawks’ bench as an NBA assistant coach.
Allick’s big hair makes him look about 6-9, the height doctors say he could still reach with his growth plates still open. And he gets plenty of commentary about his hairstyle from opposing team’s student sections.
“I’ve been called ‘Chia Pet’ and ‘Jackie Moon’ from the movie 'Semi-Pro.' I don’t mind that one because I’m a Will Ferrell fan,” Allick said.
Allick has something else in common with Hill — sisters who made it big in volleyball. Hill’s older sister, Megan, was a Super-Stater at Southeast who went on to play at Kansas.
Allick’s older sister, Sarah, was a one-time Nebraska recruit and a former Super-Stater at North Star. His younger sister, Bekka, committed to Nebraska last summer before her freshman season at North Star. Their mother, Colleen, played basketball at Northwest Missouri State.
And like Hill, Josiah has been able to emerge from his sisters’ shadows by being a basketball star. But it didn’t happen overnight for Allick as he played on all four levels of North Star’s program — freshman, reserves as a sophomore and junior varsity last year before being moved up to varsity late in the season — before his game took off.
“I’ve never had a kid who has developed physically and skillwise as quickly as Josiah has in the last year,” Quattrocchi said of Allick, who is considering the option of reclassifying to the class of 2020 and then attending prep school as a high school graduate next year to see what kind of Division I offers he can snag. Last year's Super-State captain, Creighton recruit Shereef Mitchell, did that this season.
“I think he’s a midlevel Division I recruit right now, but who knows what his ceiling is, as rapidly as he’s improving.”
After Allick had a strong summer with Omaha Sports Academy’s second 17s AAU team, Quattrocchi’s challenge early in the season was meshing Allick’s emerging skill set with the offensive arsenal that 6-5 Nebraska junior guard recruit Donovan Williams possesses.
It took some time to figure out roles, but Allick has become the weapon that makes opponents pay if they focus too much on slowing down Williams, who averages 20.5 points and three assists per game.
Allick nearly averages a double-double — 14.8 points and 9.6 rebounds — while shooting 65 percent from the field and 41 percent from beyond the three-point arc. He has the ability to drive and finish, shoot outside or post up inside with a variety of moves that he’s learned from local basketball coach Thomas Viglianco, himself 6-10 and a former professional player overseas.
Allick’s increased production — 17.8 points and 10.5 rebounds per game in the last 10 games — sparked North Star to an 8-2 record in those contests. The seventh-ranked Gators (14-8) have a first-round district game at home Saturday against Omaha North.
“A lot of what I’m doing is because of Donovan,” Allick said. “He may not get five or six assists per game, but he does a good job of getting us the ball in a position where we can do something with it. His passing gets overlooked.”
Allick admitted he didn’t have a good work ethic academically when he entered high school as a freshman. Recently, however, Allick scored a 29 on the ACT, and he’s been able to raise what was a low grade-point average three years ago to a 3.8.
That’s opening some academic scholarship doors at the college level, where he would like to study computer science.
“Academics and athletics go hand-in-hand,” said Allick who has basketball scholarship offers from Midland and Baker University. “In both, you have to be willing to put the work in every day to be successful.”