Southwestern graduate Adrien Allen’s big move to Las Vegas paid off

February 11, 2011

By Eric Woodyard | The Flint Journal

FLINT, Michigan — Adrien Allen was only searching for a better opportunity when he decided to move from Flint to Las Vegas in September.

The Southwestern graduate never imagined that he would soon be playing professionally for the Las Vegas Aces in the American Basketball Association.

Allen had been a football player for the majority of his life. The thought of pursuing only basketball seemed like a longshot and others had little faith in his abilities to make the transition.

“Basketball is my first love and growing up through high school, I would have coaches and a lot of people tell me that because of my size football would be the only way I would be able to make it,” Allen said. “But I always knew that one of these days I was gonna fall back on basketball because I just love basketball so much.”

The road was not an easy trip for Allen. In 2006, he graduated from Southwestern. He had several layovers along the way, including stints at Flint Central as a freshman and Flint Powers as a sophomore, before becoming a Knight his final two years. After high school, Allen took his skills to Buffalo, N.Y., where he played quarterback for Erie Community College for one season.

He spent the next two years at Northwood University in Midland,  where he played football but was never allowed to step on the hardwood. Allen’s athletic career seemed to be crumpling when he didn’t return to Northwood for his senior year and decided to make the trip to Las Vegas instead.

As fate would have it, he stumbled upon the league while casually surfing the web.

Allen narrowly made the date for the tryouts. His “lunch-pail mentality” impressed head coach, Kirk Baker, as well a few veteran players on the roster. It wasn’t until after Allen made the team that he was informed of Baker’s ties to his hometown.

Baker attended Flint Northwestern from 1982-1983 and cracked the varsity roster as a sophomore before moving to Lansing to finish high school. Baker is in his first season as head coach for the Aces and enjoys coaching the rookie.

“For a Flint guy he doesn’t have too much of a jumper, but he’s got that tenacity and he plays hard,” Baker said. “It was something that I needed so we picked him up.”

“The thing that impressed me is when we played Stephon Marbury’s team (from China) in the preseason games,” Baker said. “(Adrien) came in, he played hard, he gave us the energy that we needed. He did well preseason and in the first couple games he was came off the bench and he was giving us like 12-14 points a game.”

In eight games, Allen has started twice and averages 5.4 points per game. Baker thinks that Allen’s recent drop in productivity is typical of first-year players because they are still learning how to play on the next level. The Aces also have a balanced team with six of the 12 players averaging double-digits in scoring. Whatever is the cause of this decline from the early season, Allen is still elated to have made it this far.

“I’m very proud of myself. I feel like I overcame a lot of stuff dealing with coaches and people telling me that I couldn’t do this and I couldn’t do that. I always knew deep down inside that if I would put that hard work in and dedicate myself that I would find a home and one day my dream would finally come true.”



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