Of all the highly-touted players on the court at the Raleigh County Armory for Tuesday night's game between Oak Hill Academy and Mountain State Academy, who would have thought that OHA junior Bryon Allen would have been the difference in the game?
That's precisely what the 6-3, 205-pound prospect was as the Warriors dispatched MSA by a final of 85-63. Allen finished 10-18 from the floor, scoring 21 points en route to the victory.
"He played great," said longtime Oak Hill head coach Steve Smith after his team's win. "He made a big three. (MSA) had it down to 10 or 11 and he made it. It was a huge three.
"I was worried about it getting in single digits again," Smith continued. "Noah Cottrill shoots it so well that you just never know. He hits a couple of more threes and it's a five point game. But Bryon made that three and then everyone else stepped up."
West Virginia is just one of a slew of schools recruiting Allen, who is capable of playing either of the guard positions at the collegiate level. Other interested suitors include but are not limited to Clemson, Georgetown, Maryland, Florida State, Florida, Kentucky, Xavier, Virginia and Virginia Tech to name a few.
While the 21 points and 18 shot attempts might stand out on paper, Allen is anything but a gunner on the court. On the contrary, he appears to be the consummate teammate, passing up shots he could have taken in order to get better looks for his teammates.
If you are looking for a comparsion, think of current Georgetown guard Jessie Sapp, though Allen's outside jump shot is not yet on par with that of the Hoya senior. Just like Sapp, Allen makes plays in a subtle, but effective way. Whether it's knocking down the big three to balloon his team's lead back to 13 as Smith mentioned or getting a steal off of Oak Hill's half-court trap that leads to a basket for one of his teammates, good things seem to follow Allen on the court. In short, he's a winner.
"He plays within himself, and he's really good on the defensive end too," Smith said. "He plays on both ends of the floor."
Allen's willingness to do whatever it takes to win should not come as a surprise when one examines his basketball pedigree. Before he transferred to Oak Hill for the 2007-08 season, Allen played significant minutes as a freshman for DeMatha (Md.) Catholic.
"He played as a ninth grader about 15 minutes per game," Smith said. "(DeMatha head coach)Mike Jones told me that (Allen) was always in during the fourth quarter. That was as a ninth grader. Then he came to us. He's played at Oak Hill and DeMatha. He's played on teams with good players."
And seemingly, he has the ability to make each one of them just a little bit better. As a junior, Allen has also taken on a little bit more of a scoring role as evidenced in the win over the Falcons. The Washington, D.C. native starts alongside 2009 prospects Keith Gallon (nicknamed "Tiny"), Lamont Jones (who answers to "MoMo"), and Doron Lamb, a Scout.com five-star prospect for the Class of 2010.
"He's averaging about 15 points a game for us, and I didn't forsee him doing that," Smith admitted. "I expected Lamb to do it and MoMo Jones, who didn't shoot as well tonight but normally he can. Tiny of course is going to score a lot.
"He's stepping up for us this year. Bryon has been a pleasant surprise with the way he has played."
Allen visited West Virginia this summer for Bob Huggins's elite camp, and came away impressed with what he saw on his trip to Morgantown.
"It was really good," he said. "I like the way they work out. I like that the student study center is all right there (at the Coliseum). If you need tutors or anything like that, they are all right there. If you're having trouble with a class or need help, it is all right there for you."
No matter where he chooses to play his college ball, Allen should be used to playing in big games and loud arenas by the time he sets foot on the floor as a freshman in the winter of 2010. The Warriors, of course, are almost always ranked among the nation's top high school programs. As such, almost every game they play is a big game for the opponent and, consequently, for Oak Hill as well.
"It gets us focused," Allen said. "(Tuesday) we were reading a scouting report on Mountain State and it was talking about how hyped up they were for the game and how they could beat us. When the opposite team thinks that they can beat you, that makes for a good atmosphere. It's really good for us."
As for his college choice, the combo guard does not expect to be narrowing his list anytime soon.
"I'm undecided right now," he declared. "I'm just enjoying my junior year and to be honest I probably won't make a decision until my senior year."
In the meantime, he'll continue to do what he does best – make plays and win.