By LARRY VAUGHT
Dan McDonald got to see Pendleton County senior Dontaie Allen play three times at the Under Armour Challenge in Georgia in July and liked what he saw from the 6-6 wing player.
“I liked his size and body type,” said McDonald, program coordinator for Lake Point Sports and a Rivals.com recruiting analyst. “He is a bigger, stronger — not heavy kid — but muscular kid. He’s not great athlete but he can score from every level. He did everything in the games I saw. He handles the ball well and passes really well. He led the Under Armour event in scoring and was in the top five in rebounds and assists. That’s pretty strong.”
Allen averaged 26.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game in the Under Armour Challenge playing for M.A.T.T.S. Mustangs and had 30 points on 11-for-15 shooting, four rebounds and two assists in the game Kentucky coach John Calipari saw. He had 30 or more points three times in five games and even hit a game-winning shot when he had a double-double with 32 points and 10 rebounds.
That performance led to Calipari contacting Allen to set up a visit to UK that resulted in a scholarship offer last week and Allen, who grew up a Kentucky fan, said yes almost immediately.
Marshall County Hoop Fest coordinator Dan Hudson knew Allen was a special player and contacted Pendleton County coach Keaton Belcher months ago about playing in this year’s event. Pendleton will take on Marshall County — and point guard Zion Harmon, one of the nation’s top sophomores — at 6 p.m. CST Dec. 1.
“People had been talking about him, so we did our research,” Hudson said. “We try to bring in top kids to play here and when we invited them, we really felt like he was still under the radar. This summer he blew up and you could tell he wanted to go to Kentucky. Sometimes this stuff just works out and we are really excited about the game.
“Marshall has a new coaching staff and a new attitude. The Marshall players are looking forward to playing in the spotlight in one of the event’s prime time games and I personally think that will be one of the top games in the state of Kentucky until you get to the state tournament. This is one game I will definitely watch instead of running around doing all the other stuff I usually do.”
Steve Quattrocchi, director of M.A.T.T.S. Mustangs, was not surprised that Allen got an offer from UK and then accepted it almost immediately.
“I knew he would likely end up there eventually,” Quattrocchi said. “I’m very proud of Dontaie and thrilled he got to make his choice. Kentucky is his dream school and he is lucky enough to get to attend there and start chasing his dream to reach the next level after his time at Kentucky ends.”
Quattrocchi hopes this might open doors for more Kentucky players to get to play at UK like Derek Willis and Dominque Hawkins did and like Allen will now.
“There are other kids in the state that are Kentucky caliber in future classes that will hopefully get that same opportunity,” he said.