District 4 high school basketball watchers know who Richard Allen III is. Millions more know who his grandfather, Dick Allen, is.
As this high school season unfolded, however, Richard thought he might have his grandfather, a 15-year Major League Baseball veteran, beat. After all, he is the one starting for St. John Neumann, an undefeated District 4 Class A champion.
Richard Allen scored 20 points in Neumann's District 4 Class A title game victory.
Dick Allen was a former major-league slugger in the 1960s-70s and is the grandfather of Richard Allen
"I thought I had something up on him playing basketball and he was like, 'I won two state championships back to back,'" Richard said after leading Neumann to a 61-48 district final win over Sullivan County. "I have some work to do, I guess."
Dick Allen won back to back state titles at Wampum High School before starting an impressive baseball career that included winning the 1964 National League Rookie of the Year and the 1972 American League MVP. His resume is lengthy and includes 351 home runs, 1,119 RBIs and a .292 career batting average. Dick Allen's brothers Hank and Ron also played in the Majors.
Richard's future story is yet to be written. But he sure is doing a nice job building his own strong resume. Grandson continues setting the bar high for future Allen's, developing into one of District 4's best point guards while helping Neumann enter Friday's state tournament opener against Greenwood 27-0.
"It (basketball) is a tradition," Allen said. "It's in my blood. Athletics is in my blood."
He also plays baseball well like his grandfather, but Allen has really shined on the court the last two seasons. Since his arrival last season, Allen has helped Neumann go 50-3 and repeat as both HAC-III and district champions. The Knights also captured this season's Heartland Conference championship, beating Class AA finalists Lewisburg and Loyalsock to do so.
As good a team as Neumann is, it is hard imagining them achieving so much without Allen. Whether it is scoring, passing, rebounding or defending, Allen can do and has done it all. He is a calming influence and a leader who has helped Neumann repeat as district champions for the first time in program history.
"He settles people down. He's just confident with the ball so any time anyone is in trouble he is there to help them out," Neumann coach Paul Petcavage said. "He's a big piece of that puzzle, a huge piece."
Allen played one of his best games last Friday, scoring a season-high 20 points, dealing three assists and making three steals as Neumann captured its third championship this season and became the program's winningest team of the 21st century. Allen set the tone early, scoring eight first-quarter points and then heating up again in the second quarter after Sullivan had cut a nine-point deficit to one.
Allen also hit 8 of 12 shots from the field and four of five at the line. He was mysteriously not named a HAC-III first team all-star earlier in the week, but showed in that one stellar performance why he should have been.
"I think he is one of the best guards out there," Neumann guard Kevin Anderson said. "He knew he had to step up and that's what he did."
That is what Allen always seems to do. The bigger the games, the better he plays. Allen also dazzled in the HAC championship when he scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds as Neumann beat Loyalsock, then the state's No. 2-ranked team, 64-58. When streaking Sullivan came to Neumann late in the regular season, Allen helped the Knights erase an eight-point second-quarter deficit while scoring 15 points, grabbing seven rebounds and dealing seven assists in a 59-29 win.
Allen also came up big last year when Neumann captured its first district title since 2000 and was sensational in a big championship comeback win over Sullivan. State Player of the Year candidate Alize Johnson might be the team's best player, its Bat Man. Allen, though, sure makes one heck of a Robin.
"He gives us great effort and he's a lot of fun," Petcavage said. "Last year he was huge because I could put him in as a point guard. This year I started out not using him as a point guard and after the first four games I thought it was stupid. I told him, 'you're my point guard, here's the ball.'"
Allen has taken it from there. He averages 12 points per game, passes as well as any guard around, rebounds well for his position and is a lock-down defender. Allen has become the complete package and has played outstanding basketball against some of District 4's other premier point guards.
Dick Allen is working with the Phillies these days and has been unable to watch Richard play in person. He does, however, watch the games on his computer.
"He always tells me what I'm doing wrong," Richard said while laughing.
Still, Dick Allen is one proud grandfather. One look at his official Facebook page reveals that. Above pictures of former Major Leaguers are images of Richard cutting down the net following the district championship and links to Neumann stories.
Richard hopes that page includes more pictures, more stories in the coming weeks. He knows a standard has been set. He knows there is only one way to equal his grandfather's high school achievements.
The fun part is trying to make that climb.
"I think it all starts with defense and knowing this is it for me," Allen said. "I want to leave it all on the court."