For graduating senior athletes Blake Allen and Brandi Brown, their time spent at Youngstown State University and inside the basketball programs will be something they remember for the rest of their lives.
Allen, who was a big part of the men’s successful season in 2012-2013, was named to the men’s basketball Academic All-Horizon League Team.
“It’s been a fun experience,” Allen said. “It was great on and off the court. I had a great opportunity, and it’s something I’ll cherish.”
The one thing that helped Allen’s choice to come to YSU instead of a college in his home state of Florida was that he thought it would be “a great opportunity.”
“The solid plays from Coach Slocum were a good fit,” Allen said. “The level of competition in the Horizon League is incredible.”
If there’s anything Allen can take away from YSU basketball, it’s that he’s currently the school’s all-time leader with 232 3-point shots made.
“When I was younger, my dad told me if you can shoot, you can score,” Allen said. “With my dad’s help, I was able to get better.”
Growing up, Allen focused more on playing basketball rather than watching it. However, once he grew older, he found inspiration from NBA players like Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul.
Assistant coach Mike Wernicki said that Allen was “consistently the hardest worker over the last three years.”
“He had a combination of being a good shooter and a hard worker,” Wernicki said. “He never took it for granted.”
Wernicki said that Allen had a driven approach to classes and to basketball.
“You look up student athlete, that’s what Blake Allen is,” Wernicki said. “He’s represented the program extremely well.”
Brian DePaoli, another assistant coach for the men’s team, said that it’s “more important for [Allen] to get an opportunity wherever he goes.”
Allen, who has an agent, said he plans to work with YSU’s NBA program in the summer and hopes to have a professional basketball career.
“The community and school have been really good to me,” Allen said.
For Brown, her career at YSU started after coaches scouted her after high school in California.
“I wasn’t really looking to play basketball, but it was the best thing for me,” Brown said. “I think the potential of the team brought me here.”
Brown earned Academic All-Horizon League Honors for the 2012-2013 season, which marked the third time she earned the award in her collegiate career.
Reflecting back on her career, Brown said she’s “proud” of it and that she “learned a lot more about basketball.”
“I can take away amazing relationships with teammates, especially this year,” Brown said.
Brown said that her coaches helped her persevere through some of the tough times in her career.
For Brown, the one game that sticks out in her memory was against Cleveland State University back in March for the Horizon League quarterfinals. Brown scored 31 points in the game.
“That game meant the most,” Brown said. “I felt like I couldn’t let my teammates down, and I felt pretty scared.”
Bob Boldon, former head coach of the YSU women’s basketball team, said Brown’s growth and development as a player stood out to him.
“When I think back on the floor, I think of the last three games [of the season],” Boldon said. “She scored 42 points in one game and to me that was a culmination of her career.”
Boldon said that Brown’s performances in the latter half of the season helped give the team the second seed going into the conference tournament.
“Those three games, it was the best I’ve ever seen her play,” Boldon said.
Brown has plans to go professional with her career and possibly overseas if she can.
“I want to play in a foreign country and learn the language, get cultured,” Brown said.
Boldon said he has absolutely no doubt that Brown will achieve that success.
“If she wants to do it, she’ll do it,” Boldon said. “We had a number of people contact us about her playing overseas.
Boldon said that Brown is a “diverse young lady” who has a bright future ahead of her.
“If she wants to play professionally, she will,” Boldon said. “She’s a tremendous person, academically terrific and very serious about what she does.”