LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — There’s no question Dontaie Allen grew up dreaming of playing basketball for the University of Kentucky. He not only had a vision of not only stepping on the court but also making a contribution.
It's a dream for many youngsters in the state and Allen was no exception while shooting hoops in his hometown of Falmouth.
Warming up before games and practicing every day is one thing, but actually getting a payback in the form of valuable minutes on the floor is another. Allen took advantage of his opportunity at Mississippi State on Saturday night where he knocked down seven 3-pointers and scored 23 points to help the Wildcats end a rare six-game losing streak with a 78-73 double-overtime victory over the Bulldogs.
A closed scrimmage against Transylvania at Rupp Arena last week helped set the tone for Allen’s outing in the team’s Southeastern Conference opener. According to multiple reports, Allen was on target, making 6 of 10 from long range against the Pioneers.
“He was on fire,” Kentucky forward Olivier Sarr confirmed. “Every day at practice, we know that Dontaie is a shooter. We know that he can do that, and we always want him to shoot when he is open.”
Allen’s performance was one Big Blue Nation has been yearning for since he arrived on campus. A year ago, injuries and other issues prevented Allen from even making an appearance in a game. He was given a redshirt, which proved to be the right thing and will help Allen in the immediate and near future.
His coming-out party was delayed this year even though he made some sightings early in the season. His first collegiate basket was, fittingly, a 3-pointer against Morehead State in the season opener more than a month ago.
He played sparingly since, and it would have been easy to understand Allen possibly growing impatient throughout the entire ordeal, but he never wavered and simply waited his turn to shine. It's happened before under Calipari and that trend is continuing going into the new calendar year.
“We’ve had guys that had to wait for their turns and then prove themselves (in the past),” UK coach John Calipari said. “Dontaie’s attitude was so good. It never changed. He’s a great kid, comes in and spends extra time. Now, he has his chance. Now, all of Kentucky is going crazy.”
And for Allen, it was a “crazy” night in Starkville, an evening he will never forget and he traced his performance back to his training and hopes others will follow his lead when it comes to achieving dreams on ethe court.
“If there are kids listening (or reading), it comes down to work,” he said. “If you put in the work, you can do some great things. Just put in the work, put your mind, body, and soul into it.”
It sure paid off in big dividends for the redshirt freshman from Falmouth who made it a night to remember for Big Blue fans everywhere but especially for those who live in Kentucky.
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at email@example.com or twitter @keithtaylor21.