By Jerry Del Priore
When Tahron Allen decided to leave St. Raymond High School in the Bronx after two years, he said several high schools vied for his basketball services. But the six-foot-four-inch junior chose to stay local and attend Brooklyn Collegiate, a school with a small student body of approximately 300 kids.
Allen said his train ride to St. Raymond took around an hour and 45 minutes each way, making it difficult for him to balance hoops with the rest of his life.
Therefore, Allen said Brooklyn Collegiate was the oblivious choice for him, seeing it was a short commute from his residence, and he had spent a good measure of time playing basketball in the school’s gym in the past.
“One, the major reason (why I chose BC) was it’s closer to home. Also, I grew up in this gym,” Allen explained. “It was a good opportunity, a good coach (Malcolm Connor), and I just felt like I was home. I was seeing what the coach was doing for the athletes in the classroom and on the court, so it was easy for me to just transfer here. It was a smooth (transition). This is the place I should be.”
It doesn’t hurt that the Lions have a solid team up and down the roster this season.
“This is the by far the best-talented team we have so far,” Connor said. “From top to bottom, this is the biggest roster we have in terms of talent.”
Brooklyn Collegiate made it all the way to the PSAL Boys’ Class AA semifinals last year, in which it lost to the Thomas Jefferson Orange Wave, 81-61, at Queens College.
However, it’s fair to say that the Lions will make a strong run at the AA Championship in 2019-20 season with the addition of the versatile lefty shooting guard who’s strong, possesses a nice handle, and incredibly cunning on the hardwood.
“In the offseason, he worked hard and he’s definitely taking the program to the next level in terms of putting us on the radar, and in terms of recruiting and exposer for the guys,” said Connor, who also teaches mathematics at Brooklyn Colligate.
“In this division, we really need tough guards and strong guards,” he continued. “We need shooters; he does a lot of things well: he can defend the ball well, he shoots the mid-range jumper well, and he finishes around the basket — he’s a tough player. So, we need those kind of guys in respect to winning this division.”
Case in point, Allen drained 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the Lions’ 73-67 win over host Thomas Jefferson to open the season, exacting some revenge for last year’s semis defeat.
It was a good team victory, the Lions’ coaching staff said, something that’s not lost on Allen, who came into the program with plenty of expectations on him.
“I feel like all the noise and the headlines about me coming here, it was good. I was grateful for it because it helped the schools come in and my recruitment to go up,” Allen said. “But, the guys, we have scorers at every different position, on and off the bench. So the guys rely on me here and there, but I also rely on them, too. So, we just rely on each other as a team, and we get it done on the court.”
As exceptional as his hoops skills are, Allen, who earned the nickname “Slow Buckets” for scoring copious amounts of points at a gradual pace, possesses maturity and leadership skills beyond his 17-year-old self.
Perhaps it has to do with the year the Brooklyn native spent attending a prep school in Canada at the age of 15. Plus, living in Boston with his mother as a child, and all the back-and-forth traveling Allen has done to pursue his love for the sport.
“I think, the most valuable thing in my game is that I am a leader, and very vocal and loud,” he said. “I know colleges like that. I just always been like that since I was growing up. Since I started playing basketball, I was always the loudest player on the court. Yeah, I made mistakes, and stuff like that, but I was always the positive guy, and always willing to help somebody else on the court.”
More importantly, though, the affable Allen gave credit to his host family in Canada, as well as his daily video chats with his relatives back home, which helped him deal with homesickness while making him a better overall person.
“When I moved out to Canada, my family still lived in Brooklyn,” he said. “I visited them, but I didn’t get to see them as much as I wanted to, but I faced time with them every day and talked to them. Being out there, by myself, my host family helped me mature and helped me become who I am today.”
Moreover, with the stellar play comes the college recruiting attention, as Allen has offers from Division I basketball programs such as Stony Brook, SUNY Binghamton, Kent State, UMASS, Bryant University, and Manhattan College, plus consideration from Temple, which he visited, among other schools, according to assistant coach Ken Hoyte.
Suiting up at the high collegiate level is one of Allen’s childhood dreams, but that’s just the beginning for him. He said he wants to play in the NBA, or at least professionally somewhere.
But first things first, Allen said, “My goals for this year are to bring Brooklyn Collegiate our first championship in the AA.” Additionally, he added, “I just want to leave a legacy behind. I want to get my recruitment stage up more, get more schools, visit more schools. So, that way, by next year, I did all my work I got to do this year, and I’m just improving every year.”