Star senior Brandon Allen success roots back to family
February 1, 2016
Behind the basketball star that is senior Brandon Allen are roots grounded on a couple farms in small town Kansas, where his mom and dad grew up. He has the humility of a farmer, but the deadly shot of a hunter.
Now in suburban Haslett, he averages the second most points in the Greater Lansing area, with 26.1 points per game and 31 three-pointers, good for third in the area.
Brandon began his basketball career in Minnesota, where his dad, Tim Allen, was assistant athletic director for football operations at the University of Minnesota. Tim is now assistant athletic director and director of football operations at Michigan State University.
Brandon began playing basketball in the Amateur Athletic Union in fourth grade with Division 1 athletes such as Minnesota commit, quarterback Seth Green. Before moving to Haslett in the fifth grade, Brandon led his team to the state title.
Brandon credits establishing his passion for the game to his older brother Brett. “I definitely started playing because of my brother, he always played,” he said. “(Our games) always used to get pretty crazy, with foul calls and everything.”
Tim agrees with his son on how chaotic the games were.
“There were times it was like World War 3 out there, but I think it pushed him and made him tougher,” he said. “But I was worried at times that they would wake up the neighbors.”
Brandon and his brother played two to three times a week, especially when he was coming back from an elbow injury freshman year.
“When I started to heal up, I used to play with my brother all the time,” Brandon said.
Along with his brother Brett, he also has an older sister Brianna, both former high school athletes. Twin sister Brooke is on the gymnastics team and was named to the CAAC Honor Roll for the sport last season.
Behind the record numbers and the hype, Brandon is human and has his own insecurities. The biggest challenge is his stuttering, which has caused him problems throughout his life, including on the court communication with other players. He stopped going to speech therapy in eighth grade, but returned this year to improve his speech.
“He has been quiet because of it. But I’m proud of him, he wanted to go back to speech therapy,” Tim said “He’s much better, he has made great progress…you really wouldn’t know the way he plays basketball.”
Brandon overcame his struggles by excelling on the court, starting four years on varsity and being co-captain three years. Being coached by varsity coach Chris Smith for three years has also given him a sense of reassurement.
“I have always led by example,” Brandon said. “When you have played for a coach as long I have, I definitely feel more comfortable (leading).”
Brandon wants to be more of a vocal leader and encourage his teammates.
“You don’t want to make a player feel like they aren’t a part of the team,” Brandon said. “Each player doesn’t want to be talked to the same way. So it has just been more of understanding people (this season).”
It also helps having AAU teammate, senior Darek Wroblak, giving Allen a sense of comfort he otherwise wouldn’t have,
“I’m used to him now. (And) he definitely knows what I like to do as a player,” Brandon said. “We have played so many games together.”
Tim believes being around Division 1 athletes has done wonders for his son as a person. And now Brandon is the prospect being scouted by multiple mid-major Division 1 colleges and has gotten an offer from Long Beach State University.
“I think it has had a huge impact on his life,” Tim said. “I always tell people, Brandon understands three things: Team, toughness and winning, because they are so important at (the Division 1) level.”
Michigan State graduate and current Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins is one of those Division 1 athletes who has had an influence on Brandon, “It has showed me the right way a person should act on and off the field,” he said.
“Kirk always said ‘It’s about proving people wrong,’” Tim said.
Brandon’s maturity and toughness are undeniable, even after three straight losses the team had a chance to win. In an interview with the Lansing State Journal after the team’s 56-55 loss to Waverly, he said, “I think it’s actually a very good thing for us,” Brandon said. “I think it builds character once you lose those close games because you know what it takes (to win).”
Sitting at a 5-6 record going into tonight’s game against Owosso, there is still potential for this team to make a run for the district title, and more.
With Brandon, who has scored 1455 career points and is closing in on the 1628 career points record, leading the offensive attack, there is always a chance to go on a stretch of really good basketball. This potential has been shown in games like a 90-80 win over St. Johns on Jan. 8.
But when Brandon’s basketball career at Haslett is all said and done, his success, his talent, his demeanor, his support continue to root back to his family upbringing from small-town Kansas.
“We are a very tight knit family,” Tim said. “We’re Kansas farm kids, and you are who you are.”