By Doug Petrowski
Mountlake Terrace High School alum and Brier resident John Allen is ready to tip off the 2012-13 basketball season with Western Washington University, but it might be hard to top what he and his Viking teammates accomplished last year– a national championship.
Allen, a 2008 graduate of Mountlake Terrace High School, help lead the WWU Vikings to the school’s first NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Championship last March.
“It is pretty surreal still,” Allen said of the team’s success last season. “I think when we finally get our championship rings, then it will probably set in.” The squad is scheduled to be honored with a national championship ring ceremony during its Viking Jam event Wednesday night at Sam Carver Gymnasium on the WWU campus.
The senior has definitely found a basketball home in Western Washington University after jumping from school to school, both in college and in high school. Allen began his college career with Washington State, playing two seasons for the Cougars before transferring to WWU.
Allen played just one season for Mountlake Terrace, in 2006-07, after transferring from Shorewood High School after his sophomore year. He had to sit out his senior year with the Hawks because of an eligibility rule. Allen still holds the Hawk single-game scoring record when he scored 39 points against Mountain View in December 2006.
Allen remembers his one season playing for Mountlake Terrace; “It was a decent year, although we never really put it all together,” he said.
Hawks Head Coach Nalin Sood also recalls Allen and his abilities on the court. “John is a very gifted and talented basketball player, thus he received the opportunity to play at Washington State University after playing at Mountlake Terrace,” he said. “John has done a tremendous job in his one year at Western Washington University and, obviously, was a key part of their national championship team this past winter,” he added.
Allen averaged 14.5 points starting all 36 games last season for the 31-5 Vikings. He was named the Most Outstanding Player at the West Regional as the team was heading toward it’s eventually championship.
Winning the title brought plenty of attention to Allen and his teammates in Bellingham. “It was a pretty cool experience,” Allen recalls. “A couple hundred people came out to the Bellingham airport to greet us. We got a police escort through town, then a couple hundred more people were there when we got back to campus.”
Allen said he was often recognized around Bellingham after the championship whenever he ventured into town.
His parents, who still live in Brier, are two of Allen’s biggest supporters, traveling to many of his games in the area. “Mom and Dad don’t miss a home game, and come to the games at Seattle Pacific and St. Martins (in Lacey),” Allen said.
It was his parents that got Allen started with basketball when he was young. “My first basketball memory was when I was 5 or 6, maybe earlier,” he said. “My mom bought me a Michael Jordan basketball hoop, and I started dunking on it.”
Allen’s parents will have another opportunity to see their son play locally; the Vikings open their season with an exhibition game against the University of Washington Huskies at the Alaska Airlines Arena on the UW campus Oct. 24. Then the team will fly to Durham, N.C., for an exhibition matchup with Duke on Oct. 27.
“That will be an exciting, cool experience,” Allen said of the chance to play the Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium. “I always wanted to play in the ACC, to experience the facilities and the atmosphere.” Although the game is officially an exhibition, Allen admitted the team is taking the trip to Duke seriously; “We’re going prepared to win,” he said.
Many expect the WWU Vikings to win plenty of games this season, as they are ranked #8 in the Division II Men’s Basketball preseason poll and have three starters returning from last year’s championship squad. “I think we have more motivation this year,” Allen said, “now that we know what we can do as a team.”
And what does the future for John Allen hold after this final year of college basketball? “I think it’s a realistic goal to play beyond this year,” he said. If no NBA team drafts him in the summer of 2013, he said he wouldn’t hesitate trying out for squads as a free agent, here or overseas. “I have always loved the game of basketball,” he admits.