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Fort Lewis men’s basketball adds two transfers

Tru Allen and Biko Johnson will join the Skyhawks in 2024-2025
New Fort Lewis men's basketball player Tru Allen goes up for a layup while playing for Northwest Nazarene University. Allen spent four years playing for the Nighthawks. (Courtesy Tru Allen)

New Fort Lewis men’s basketball coach Jordan Mast has his work cut out for him to have a competitive team next season with virtually no returners from the 29-4 2023-2024 team.

The good news for Skyhawks fans is Mast has been moving fast to put together a quality roster to play inside of Whalen Gymnasium in the winter.

FLC men’s basketball announced the additions of Biko Johnson and Tru Allen on Tuesday on X (formerly known as Twitter).

Johnson comes to FLC after spending last season at Division I Nebraska Omaha. The 6-foot, 2-inch, 180-pound guard played 16 games and started four games. He started the first three games of the season before suffering a shoulder injury which caused him to miss some games and his minutes decreased the rest of the year. Johnson said his shoulder is now fully healthy.

With the Mavericks, Johnson averaged 3.3 points per game, 1.3 rebounds per game and 1.0 assists per game in 10.8 minutes per game.

Johnson said he learned patience from playing at the Division I level. He knows sometimes he’ll have to wait his turn and be ready when opportunity beckons.

Before Nebraska Omaha, Johnson played two seasons at Western Nebraska Community College where he averaged 12.4 ppg, 2.9 apg and 4.6 rpg in his freshman year. In his sophomore year, he upped those numbers to 13.7 ppg, 3.5 apg and 4.6 rpg.

New Fort Lewis men's basketball player Biko Johnson follows through after a shot while playing for University of Nebraska Omaha. (Courtesy Biko Johnson)

The Carson, California native has one year of eligibility remaining.

“Biko is a very aggressive guard with great size,” Mast said. “He's a guy that can make plays happen. He's a guy we envision at the end of the shot clock, if we haven't gotten a great shot, we can put the ball in his hand … We think he'll be one of the most dynamic guards in the league. He can do a little bit of everything. He's a good shooter, he's almost 40% from three, he's got the size and athleticism, the kind of shakiness to really put pressure on defenses and get downhill and make plays.”

Johnson said he was drawn to FLC because of the coaching staff and the opportunity. He likes the winning tradition of FLC and wants to continue it.

This offseason Johnson said he’s focusing on the mental aspect of the game, staying aggressive and always being ready to make the play needed.

“The biggest thing was the opportunity to grow, I have one year left with eligibility,” Johnson said. “They told me (FLC coaching staff) they're going to go hard on me from day one, academically and obviously basketball as well. The biggest thing I want to do is get better from last year.”

Johnson is majoring in sociology and plans to get his degree in a related field. He plans on coming to Durango for the summer camps, to meet the rest of the guys and to get a feel for Durango.

FLC’s other signing, Allen, comes to FLC after spending four years at Division II Northwest Nazarene University. The Idaho native averaged 13.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg and 2.9 apg for the 17-10 Nighthawks. He was also fourth in Division II with 2.64 steals per game. Allen has one year of eligibility remaining.

Allen was the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year in 2021-2022. He also was Second Team All-GNAC in 2023-2024.

“He’s a seasoned veteran that's been able to produce on winning teams which is one thing we looked at,” Mast said about Allen. “The second thing is the defense … Fans got accustomed to the high-pressure defensive style last year (at FLC), and that's what we want to continue and bring to the table. So signing an elite guard on the defensive end was one of our first big goals and I think we accomplished that with Tru.”

Allen described his play style as a fast-paced playmaker who likes to keep the crowd entertained. He said he’s a winner who can do all the things to help the team win. He’s excited to play in front of the FLC crowds and meet the fans.

Although Allen is moving on to FLC, he is thankful for his time at Northwest Nazarene University. He said he feels grateful to be playing college basketball and looks at basketball as a small sample size for how life is. The good and bad that happen during basketball games, the runs both teams make in basketball and life are all about how you respond to those runs and setbacks.

This summer, Allen is working on his 3-point shot after shooting 19% from downtown last season.

Allen grew up on the Nez Perce Reservation in Idaho and is enrolled in the Umatilla Tribe which is based in Oregon.

He said he didn’t know too much about FLC and its history before he began being recruited by Mast and the rest of the staff.

“Then I started reading up on the FLC history and the ties they have with the Native Americans and some of the benefits they offer,” Allen said. “Just the number of students of Native Americans that go there, and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh look how God works.’ It's going to be super cool. Having a tie and going to a place that I'm going to play in front of some other Native American people, growing up on the reservation that’s all I really played in front of and that's my biggest supporting group. That's one of my biggest motivations to keep playing and makes me want to go play professionally.”

Allen said some local tribal members have already reached out and he’s looking forward to connecting with them once he gets to Durango. Allen thinks he’ll be settled in Durango in the middle of August.

Mast said the FLC men’s basketball staff is recruiting very hard and has some big-time visits set up in the next week.

bkelly@durangoherald.com