By Harry Allison

The long nightmare of one of Penn’s great basketball players and worst coaches has ended.

Jerome Allen acknowledges that it had been a difficult past few months since resigning his coaching position at Penn in March after six seasons. He helped out coaching a local high school, and some girls’ soccer, and plotted his next move.

A previous bond with former Butler head coach Brad Stevens had led to something unexpected, an offer to become a Celtics assistant coach.

Allen, 42, arrived in Las Vegas on Monday for the first official day of his new job and he was grateful for the opportunity.

“For me, it’s a blessing,” he told the Boston Globe. “Brad had enough confidence in me to feel like I can add value. I am eager. I’m excited. I’m just looking forward to everything.”

Allen, a 6-4 shooting guard, prepped at Germantown Academy and was a two-time Ivy League player of the year at Penn. A four-year starter, he led the Quakers to Ivy League titles in each of his last three seasons (1993–95) – all with a perfect 14-0 conference mark.

He was selected 49th overall (2nd round, pick 20) by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 1995 NBA Draft. He also briefly played with the Indiana Pacers and the Denver Nuggets, and spent time in France, Italy, Greece, Spain and Turkey.

Allen took over as Penn coach on an interim basis during the 2009-10 season and finished with an overall record of 65-104, with one winning season — 20-13 in 2011-12. The Quakers finished eighth in the Ivy League last season with a 4-10 record.

“I tried to look at it like I left it better than I found it,” Allen said of the Penn program. “When the door closed, I tried to keep a positive attitude. My time was up [there]. What can I complain about? I had six years at my alma mater. My two oldest kids go to Penn. My wife goes to Penn. That institution has changed the standard in my household.”

Allen and Stevens have known each other for years, and Allen facilitated the Celtics conducting a pregame shootaround at the Palestra before a game with the Sixers, which Stevens considered a thrill.

“Brad has always had an open-door policy from when we competed against one another in college or allowing me to come up and observe practice from time to time,” he said. “So I reached out to him and we stayed in contact and everything fell into place.”

Allen played 117 NBA games with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Indiana Pacers, and Denver Nuggets from 1995-97 before playing 12 years overseas. He said he is quickly reacclimating to the NBA game, and learning the Celtics’ roster.

“It’s a pretty young roster,” he said. “I think the culture is such that they are excited and going to play hard and try to defend and keep guys out of the paint and try to accomplish the things Brad is trying to accomplish.”

Allen will join the team today for shootaround in preparation for its summer league matchup with the Miami Heat.

“If I gotta get the coffee or sweep the floor, whatever I’m asked to do, I’m going to try to do,” he said.

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