ORONO, Maine — Jon McAllian admits there was a brief time a few years back when he considered transferring.
The former Bangor High School standout arrived at the University of Maine with high hopes in 2008 after accepting a scholarship offer from men’s basketball head coach Ted Woodward.
However, consistent, quality playing time has been hard to come by for the 6-foot-5 shooting guard.
“I can’t lie, it [transferring] was in the back of my mind,” said McAllian, a fifth-year senior who has been a study in perseverance for the Black Bears.
He has played in 35 games as a reserve during his four-year career, seeing more action the past two seasons.
McAllian has appeared in seven of the Black Bears’ 11 games this semester, averaging almost nine minutes and 1.6 points per contest entering Saturday’s 2 p.m. home game against Florida Gulf Coast.
“He’s definitely been a guy who, as his career’s gone on, has gotten himself in situations where he’s been able to show more versatility and helped us in different ways,” Woodward said.
“He works hard. He makes the most of his abilities,” he added.
But game time is only a small part of competing at UMaine.
“I think the Division I experience is so much worth it,” McAllian said. “We get to play big teams, like this year we played Florida State. That’s fun. I think I’ve learned a lot in Division I, which will help me in the future.”
McAllian believes his UMaine career has helped him appreciate the importance of team, rather than focusing on individual goals and accomplishments.
He said it is a dynamic he has always embraced and one he has been taught for many years.
“I always learned in high school from (coach) Roger Reed to accept your role, that would be the better for the team,” McAllian said. “If that means not playing every minute or not taking every shot, then I’m happy with doing my role for the better of the team.”
McAllian went to UMaine with a reputation as a dangerous 3-point shooter. He had wowed college recruiters with his shooting exploits during the latter part of his AAU career.
However, he has shot only 22 percent from distance (10-for-46) at UMaine.
“My job is to knock down the shots when I’m open,” he explained. “I’m taller at my position, so I have a great advantage doing post feeds into Ali (Fraser) and Mike (Allison) and rebounding and defending at my position.”
He appeared in a career-high 20 games last season as a junior. With injuries having thinned the UMaine frontcourt, McAllian showed versatility when he switched to forward to provide some depth.
“He’s the only guy that really had enough basketball IQ to go from a perimeter spot to a post position and helped our team,” Woodward said.
McAllian’s efforts early this season were hampered by a medical issue. He experienced two episodes of an erratic heartbeat and elevated blood pressure.
“It’s scary, but nothing life-threatening,” said McAllian, who was closely evaluated and even wore a heart monitor for a period of time.
The same thing happened once last season, but McAllian has been reassured there are no anatomical problems with his heart and that he should be fine.
“The doctors really couldn’t diagnose it with anything,” he explained. “The just said stay hydrated, that will help, but it might be something I have to live with.”
Something he won’t have to live with is large school loans. McAllian said his athletic scholarship is very much appreciated.
Woodward pointed out that McAllian’s contributions have gone beyond his play.
“Jon’s a tremendous young man,” he said. “He’s done a great job in the classroom and is a guy that everybody likes.”
He was a key member of Bangor High teams that won the Class A state championship in 2007 and finished as state runner-up in 2008, and compiled a 42-2 record his last two seasons.
McAllian was a finalist for Mr. Maine Basketball as a senior after earning All-Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference first-team honors and a spot on the BDN All-Maine second team. He also was the Most Valuable Player of the Eastern Maine Class A tournament in 2008.
He is happy to have been able to play college basketball in his own backyard.
“I grew up watching UMaine sports my whole life, so it was always my dream to play here and I’m blessed to have the opportunity,” he said.
And Maine will remain part of his life.
The physical education major will be doing his student teaching during the second semester. He plans to marry his fiancee, Chelsea Ellis of Abbot, in July and find a teaching job somewhere in the state.
“I’m going to be starting a family in a few years,” he said. “I’m really familiar with Maine and comfortable having my kids grow up in Maine.”