Telling it like it is: Rumor is untrue
Charel Allen is used to hearing her basketball feats told as stuff of legend, from her WPIAL Class A finals-record 39 points as a freshman to the 52 in a game last season.
Rumors, however, are another story.
When one of her AAU teammates called this summer to ask Allen if she had committed to Penn State, Allen was stunned by the conversation.
The 5-foot-10 guard from Monessen has scholarship offers from Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia and Georgetown and also is receiving interest from Maryland, Notre Dame and Syracuse. Allen said she has crossed Pitt and WVU off her list because she doesn’t like their campus settings.
But at this point, she isn’t close to deciding.
“They’re all great schools and great coaching staffs, but I don’t want to say one is a favorite,” Allen said. “There’s rumors out there that I made a verbal to Penn State. That’s not true. I didn’t. If you want to find out, call me.”
That’s what the coaches have done since June 1. They called Allen, they mailed letters to her, they followed her Western Pa. Bruins team to tournaments across the country.
Perhaps, the Penn State rumors started because Lady Lions coach Rene Portland has been the most visible of the coaches recruiting Allen.
“It’s nice to see the head coach interested,” Allen said. “Usually, the assistants do the recruiting. It’s different to see the head coach’s face. It showed me she’s seriously interested. She wanted to see how I play for herself.”
Portland drove through a snowstorm to see Monessen play at Clairton this past winter and found the doors locked upon her arrival. She talked her way in and stood courtside.
“I noticed her because she was standing by the floor,” Allen said. “That’s how I pinpointed her. I knew her face.”
Allen’s face became familiar to girls basketball followers after that 39-point performance against Clairton and Kamela Gissendanner three years ago. Since then, she has been arguably one of the WPIAL’s top players — boys or girls — and a sometimes unstoppable scoring machine.
Each year, Allen has increased her scoring average. She went 23.5 points per game as a freshman to 24.8 as a sophomore to 29.9 last season, when she guided the Greyhounds back to the WPIAL Class A finals and was named first-team all-state.
Allen told college coaches that she felt like her shot needed work, but what they like is her drive and determination. Although she missed seven of her first eight shots and all eight 3-point attempts en route to 12 of 36 shooting in the WPIAL final loss to Serra, Allen never stopped attacking the basket. She finished with 28 points and 20 rebounds.
Allen became the 31st WPIAL girls player to surpass 2,000 points when she dropped 52 on Trinity Christian last season. She now has 2,300 points and an outside shot to pass Monessen’s Gina Naccarato (3,364) as the WPIAL’s all-time scoring leader this season.
Allen, however, isn’t one-dimensional. She is a skilled, fluid player who can dribble, pass, rebound and defend, as evidenced by her 11.4 rebounds, 7.2 steals and 4.8 assists per game as a junior.
She is starting to get interested in women’s college basketball, attending the Pitt-Penn State game last season and watching other games on television.
“It was hard to catch them on TV,” Allen said, “because only the games involving big-time schools like UConn and Tennessee are televised much.”
Not that Allen is considering UConn or Tennessee.
“If somebody out of the blue called, it’s pretty late,” Allen said. “At this point, I must be last on their list, and everybody turned them down.”
Allen said she has four home visits scheduled for September, starting with Penn State, then Georgetown, Maryland and Notre Dame. She intends to make official visits to the four schools, then decide by November’s early signing period.
If you hear it any different, it’s just a rumor.
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review sports columnist. You can contact Kevin by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .