Former College of Eastern Utah All-American William Allen will be honored during the Scenic West Athletic Tournament hosted in Price the weekend of March 4-6.
Allen helped propel the men's basketball program into the legacy it has become during the past quarter of a century. CEU had not had an All-American on its roster since the 1960s when Ron Cunningham and Lou West received the distinction.
In 1986, the 6-5 forward was highly recruited out of Hirsch Metro High in Chicago by then University of Utah basketball coach Lynn Archibald. The coach talked to CEU Head Coach Curt Jenson about working with Allen for a year and having him transfer back to Utah his sophomore year.
That was a transition year for the CEU's men's basketball program. Coach Jenson stepped down as head coach midway through the season and 28-year-old Ronnie Stubbs accepted the head coaching position. Stubbs was an assistant under Jensen as well as coach at Notre Dame Jr. High.
It was a good year for Allen who scored double doubles his freshman year averaging 21 points and 13 rebounds.
Stubbs convinced him to stay his sophomore year where he averaged 24 points and 11 rebounds. He was named player of year both seasons, All-SWAC and All-American.
He remembers enjoying the camaraderie with his teammates including Ralph McKinney, Ingo Wolf, Frank Campagni and Kelvin Lee (list). He remembers friends like Stretch, Steve and Smoke.
Allen held many records at CEU including most career points 1,418. Tyler Kepkay (2005-07) holds the number two position with 1,282 points, 136 less.
Kepkay passed Allen in highest single season average points with 27.5 followed by Allen's average with 23.7. Kepkay also passed Allen in single season point totals with 852, followed by Allen's 757.
Allen is number two in career rebounds with 738. Kris Hill's 842 is No. 1 in the record book.
"I was well received as an African American and human being in the community. Everyone was warm and open to us as athletes," he said.
While at CEU, he remembers eating dinner at Pat Noel's home. "She was always helping the team out and we ate many meals at her home. The Beacco family was always nice and supported me."
After graduation from CEU he transferred to Cal State Fullerton. Shortly after arriving in California his father passed and he took the year off.
He transferred to Southern Utah University where he had to sit out a year for eligibility. His junior year he averaged 18 points and nine rebounds but injured his knee in the first game of his senior season.
His next journey took him to Holland to play pro ball with the Emmalord Dutch team. He averaged 26 points, 16 rebounds and named Newcomer of the Year.
After a year, he returned to SUU to finish his degree in communications and minor in physical education.
He used his communications background to start a publishing company called Rise up Blackman. He has written and published two books Unmasking Christianity and Jesus Who Were You?
He is expanding his creativity into designing a clothing line for African Americans called 40 Acres - Apparel for Your Mind, A clothing line that was created to help join in the fight for Reparations for blacks.
He continues to work out and play basketball three times a week. He still enjoys watching college and professional games as well as playing on recreational teams in the Salt Lake Valley.
His favorite Utah Jazz player is Deron Willliams.
Allen enjoyed his time at CEU. "It changed my life. I grew up in Chicago and the competition to go to college meant performing in high school sports at a higher level.
"CEU gave me the opportunity to culturally interact with people who accepted me and I accepted them. I enjoyed playing basketball in an atmosphere whereas people appreciated me for being a human being.
"I am proud that I moved from an athletic/student to a student who plays athletics," he said.
Making his home in Utah, Williams says, is because he likes being close to his two boys Shiaba Allen and Tanner Brown (ages 15 and 20) and that he is well received here. "I feel comfortable in Utah."