By LARRY VAUGHT
When Dontaie Allen took an unofficial visit to Kentucky that resulted in the Pendleton County star getting the scholarship offer he quickly accepted, he got to work out with two former UK stars — Darius Miller and Randolph Morris — and also watch the current players practice twice.
“Darius was one of his heroes growing up. He’s from our region (Miller played at Mason County) and everybody knows about him and what he did at UK and now in the NBA,” Pendleton County coach Keaton Belcher said.
Belcher played college basketball at Belmont University in Nashville and helped the Bruins reach the NCAA Tournament in 2006, 2007 and 2008. He was team captain his senior year and played in a school record 131 games,
He finished his career with 856 points, 396 rebounds and 91 assists. He was also a career 35 percent shooter from 3-point range.
One of his Belmont teammates was Ian Clark, who averaged 14.9 points per game Belcher’s senior season in 2009-10. He now plays for the New Orleans Pelicans with former UK star Anthony Davis.
“Dontaie is farther along now than Ian Clark was at the same time. That’s another reason I think Dontaie can eventually play in the NBA,” Belcher said. “He can score at every level. I have not really seen anybody yet shut Dontaie down. He’s a guy that is afraid to fail and he puts in the work to succeed.”
Allen figures to be one of the leading candidates for Mr. Basketball honors, and signing with Kentucky in November certainly will enhance his chances. Belcher has also upgraded Pendleton’s schedule to give him more exposure across the state.
“I would be lying if I said we had not mentioned that before,” Belcher said. “Mr. Basketball is something we are shooting for but because you commit to Kentucky is not a guarantee to win the award. You have still got to produce. Last year he was a consensus first-team all-state player but you still have to produce this year to be considered for an award like that.”