Wildcats pick up rare in-state commitment from Pendleton star

Published 11:07 pm Thursday, August 2, 2018

LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — John Calipari picked up an instate commitment Thursday when Pendleton County standout Dontaie Allen verbally committed to play for the Wildcats.

Allen confirmed his decision via Twitter on Thursday and said he will “rock Kentucky Blue.” Allen, a 6-foot-7 perimeter player, also received offers from Florida, Illinois, Pittsburgh, Oklahoma, Iowa State, Saint Louis, Auburn, Louisville and Clemson during the past two weeks.

“First of all, I want to say thank you to each and every school that has recruited me and given me scholarship offers to play for their beautiful universities,” he said. “I want to thank a lot of people who have helped me on the journey to become the person I am today (and) I wouldn’t be here without any of you, especially my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. None of this would have been possible without you. With that said, I’ll be committing to the University of Kentucky to continue my academic and athletic career.”

Allen caught Calipari’s attention during an AAU Tournament — the Under Armour Challenge — in Cartersville, Georgia last month. Allen scored at least 30 points in three games during the event. Allen averaged 26.4 points during the tournament and has been on Kentucky’s radar since the breakout performances in the event. His scoring average was tops in the tourney and he also averaged 6.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per contest.

With Calipari looking on, Allen tallied 30 points and missed just four field goals on 15 attempts. He added four rebounds and two assists during the second day of the tournament.

Pendleton County coach Keaton Belcher said Allen’s will to succeed is one of the many traits his senior star possesses.

“His drive (to get better) and his ability to want to improve every facet of the game, not to mention he’s so versatile (makes him a great player,” said Belcher, who added his senior star will be a great fit at Kentucky.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said Wednesday the Wildcats have been “fortunate and blessed that families have trusted us with their children, but this isn’t for everybody.”

“This is really hard, and you have to want this as bad as we want you,” he said. “I am always looking for guys who have always dreamed of playing at Kentucky. Then I’ve got to find out if they’re good enough. Because they may be 100,000 of those but there are only three or four that are good enough to really be here to make that work.

“If we look at those guys first, and then again you have to have a great faith in your own ability and confidence that you’re not – like I don’t promise anybody that they’ll start and play. Like, how much you’re going to shoot the ball. I just don’t do it with anybody, which some kids need that and that’s OK. I mean, you just wouldn’t be here. It’s the way we recruit. I’ve recruited the same way everywhere I’ve been.”

Allen in the first in-state player to commit with a scholarship offer to play at Kentucky since Dominique Hawkins inked with the Wildcats after leading Madison Central to its first state championship in 2013. Hawkins also was named Mr. Basketball in 2013.

———

Cats, Transy to play in exhibition

Kentucky announced its two exhibition opponents and will play Transylvania on Oct. 26 and Indiana University of Pennsylvania on Nov. 2 at Rupp Arena.

The Pioneers and Wildcats will honor former Kentucky player and athletics director C.M. Newton, who passed away on June at the age of 88.

Newton served as a head coach at Transylvania before moving on to Alabama and Vanderbilt, where he won more than 500 games during a stellar coaching career. He rounded out his career as AD at Kentucky from 1989-2000.

Kentucky will play four games in the Bahamas, starting Aug. 8. All four games will be televised on the SEC Network. Kentucky opens the season on Nov. 6 against Duke in the Champions Classic in Indianapolis.