Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

November 13, 2013

Allen signs to play at Radford

RICHLANDS, Va. — Dennis Palmer has a favorite saying that relates perfectly to Richlands girls basketball standout Brittany Allen.

“To get to the level she is at you have got to be totally in,” said Palmer, the girls basketball coach at Richlands. “I love the saying, ‘you are either all in or you are all out’, to get to this level you have got to be all in.

“You can’t take days off...As many games as she has played, and she is still trying to find a gym when she is not playing to shoot in.”

Allen is, without a doubt, all in.

“I just love the game,” said Allen, who signed a letter of intent on Wednesday to play college basketball at Radford University. “It is fast-paced, challenging, it is rough, I just love everything about it.”

All those hours in the gym or on the playground shooting hoops paid off on Wednesday when Allen’s dream of playing college basketball was fulfilled.

And, not just any college basketball. She had a specific goal in mind.

“I definitely wanted Division I,” Allen said. “Since I was younger I knew I wanted to play basketball,  but it would be great if I could play Division I.

“That is why I worked so hard, so I am glad.”

She has reason to be.

“I am real excited, really blessed to be here today,” Allen said. “I am looking forward to my senior season and my freshman year at Radford...

“I am relieved to get that out of the way so I can get my senior year of basketball started. I am ready to go to Radford and play, I am really excited about that too.”

Allen, who had originally committed to play at Winthrop, signed a national letter of intent during a ceremony on Wednesday to instead play at Radford, a Division 1 program in the Big South Conference.

“It really wasn’t any specific reason I decommitted,” Allen said. “I think Radford was meant to be the whole time. (Winthrop) didn’t feel right.”

Radford did, with Allen impressed by the coaching staff, led by Mike McGuire, whose Highlanders are 2-0 this season, and were 16-14 in 2013, falling a game short of the NCAA Tournament in the Big South title game.

“I just fell in love with them,” said Allen, who has scored 1,339 points, and will become the Lady Blues’ all-time leading scorer in the season ahead.

“I am so excited, we started Monday,” she said. “Some of us are a little sore, but that is part of it, I am excited for the season.”

While Allen, who plans to major in education and possibly pursue a career in coaching, has another year to play for Richlands, she is already eagerly  anticipating that first season on the college hardwood.

“I know nothing to going to be handed to me, I am going in there, and even though I am a freshman, I am not going to play like as a freshman,” Allen said. “I am going to go in there and work as hard as I can and try to contribute to the team.

“He is recruiting me as a shooting guard. I have already been told it is a whole new level. I am going to have to get the shot off really extremely quick and like anything else, it is possible, I have just got to work at it.”

Never straying from hard work is how Allen has accomplished so much in three years at Richlands, earning first team all-state, all-region and picking up Southwest District player of the year honors last season. None of that tops leading the Lady Blues to consecutive state final four appearances.

“Going to state with my team probably,” said Allen, of what stands out most to her. “I just wish we could get to that one more next step and win this, but if it is meant to be, it is meant to be.”

Allen will, no doubt, do what it takes to give the Lady Blues another chance.

“I think with hard work hopefully we can get back to state,” said Allen, whose Blues have lost in the state semifinals in each of the last two seasons. “We just have to take one game at a time like we did last year and just play hard.”

That won’t be a problem for Allen. She doesn’t know any other way, and it’s been that way for most of her young life.

“I have actually played rec basketball since like kindergarten so I have played my whole life,” said Allen, who began playing travel ball for Palmer in fifth grade, and has also played for AAU squads in Bristol and Knoxville.

Where does that drive to succeed come from? Words like commitment and sacrifice were used to describe Allen during Wednesday’s ceremony.

“I don’t know, I guess it just came from within,” Allen said. “I have always had a lot of  love for basketball and I don’t want to end, hopefully these next four years will be good.”

Allen, who was surrounded by family and plenty of teammates and friends, didn’t hesitate to credit others for her success.

“I have to think God first off and my family, they have done so much for me,” Allen said. “I am so, so lucky to have them. My coaches, I definitely couldn’t have done it without them either so I have had a great background here and I am blessed to have them all.”

Palmer feels much the same about having Allen on his side, but don’t ask how many games she has played over the years.

“It is probably hard to count them up,” Palmer said. “It is mind-boggling to think about it how many games she has played.

“I have no idea,” added Allen, with her ever-present smile. “I have played so many games, it is crazy.”

All those games, all those practices, all those hours in the gym or on the playground paid off for Allen, with her future secure on a Division I college hardwood.

There is little doubt those efforts have been noticed.

“I hope my legacy is for the younger girls to always work toward your dreams,” Allen said. “It is possible if you just work hard.”

—Contact Brian Woodson

bwoodson@bdtonline.com

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