Allen officially signs with UK
Pendleton County senior basketball star Dontaie Allen fulfilled a lifelong dream on the afternoon of Nov. 16.
Before a packed gymnasium filled with family, classmates, friends and supporters, he signed a national letter-of-intent with the University of Kentucky, finalizing his verbal commitment he gave to program after receiving a scholarship offer in August.
A Winter Sports pep rally was held at Pendleton County High School to serve as the official start for basketball, cheerleading, archery and bowling season, and the conclusion of the festivities saw Allen; surrounded by his parents and siblings, sign on the dotted line to officially secure his spot on the men’s basketball team beginning in the Fall of 2019. In doing so, Allen also becomes the first in-state player to sign with Kentucky since Derek Willis and Dominique Hawkins in 2013.
“It’s really been a great ride,” Allen said. “From all the calls from different coaches, to committing, and now signing. All of the work I’ve put in, the goals I have set, and being able to see my dreams come to life has been a blessing. I would like to thank God for continuing to bless me, and thank my family for loving me and the community for their support,” he continued.
Following the pep rally, Allen said he received a message from Wildcats head coach John Calipari welcoming him to the UK family and said that he was excited to coach him. In a press release later that day, Calipari called Allen “one of Kentucky’s finest,” and described the versatile skills that he believes will help make him impact player right away for the Wildcats.
“I love Dontaie’s ability to score the ball in different ways. He’s got a lot of skills with the ball in his hands and athleticism to play
above the rim. I’m always excited anytime there’s a player from our state who can come in and help this program and have an impact. Dontaie does all that for us,” Calipari said.
The culmination of a dream becoming reality left everyone in attendance with a sense of pride and satisfaction, including Allen’s mother, April Allen-Thomas, who has been the driving force throughout her son’s basketball journey.
“Words cannot express how proud I am of Dontaie. The festivities and events that took place were very surreal. We have put every ounce of energy in helping make this dream happen. Dontaie has worked so hard for this and now the reward is wearing that ‘Kentucky’ across his chest! The amount of support shown within the high school and county has honestly left me in awe,” she said.
Another cornerstone in Allen’s growth and development both on and off the basketball court has been his coach of the past four seasons, Keaton Belcher, who was the last Pendleton County Wildcat to sign a Division I letter of intent to play basketball in 2005 with Belmont. He calls this a day he’ll never forget and something that everyone in Pendleton County can be proud of.
“This was a special day for the entire community. The energy at the pep rally was incredible,” Belcher said.
For those who have been around Allen since childhood, the common theme in describing the quiet, yet friendly and likeable young man has been his laser sharp focus and relentless drive. Pendleton County schools Superintendent Joe Buerkley recalls a moment during Allen’s days at Southern Elementary that proved to be a glimpse of what was to come many years later.
“I remember Dontaie dressing up as a basketball player for ‘Career Day’ as a little boy, and that has always been his goal. It’s been amazing to watch him push towards his push towards his goals and never give up. It shows that hard work and persistence will pay off,” Buerkley said.
When asked what his message would be to any young boy or girl around the state who has dreams of playing for Kentucky, Allen didn’t hesitate to mention that amount of time and hard work that will go into it. But if there’s a blueprint for what can be accomplished if you push hard enough and not allow things like coming from a small town deter your ambition, Allen now serves as the model to follow.
“Invest in yourself. You are your best asset. Treat yourself like a business and brand. For your business to grow and be successful, you have to plant seeds of sacrificed time (school work/workouts/practice) whenever you can, seeds of growth (short-term, achievable goals), seeds of opportunity and exposure (take the opportunity to play against top players outside of your community to gain exposure), and when you get knocked down, get back up and keep working. Keep positive energy around you and a strong supporting team of faith, family, and friends. These are the things I did to get where I am today and I’m not finished yet! Remember, Big Blue dreams come true!”