Antonio Allen graduated from South Panola High School in Mississippi 2008.
Antonio stands at 6’4 and weighed 210 pounds and played the guard position in high school.
During his junior year, Antonio averaged 30 points a game and was one of the best basketball players in the state of Mississippi.
College programs began to pay attention. By his senior year of high school Antonio was averaging around 25 points per game.
You would think that a high school basketball player putting up those kinds of numbers, with his size would attract the attention of many division one college programs.
According to Antonio, he did have division one basketball programs showing a certain level of interests.
But there was a major problem with Antonio: his grades were not going to allow him to play at the division one level.
What Antonio told me was, “When those schools found out about my grades, they all backed off.” The college recruiting process is not only about whether you can play a sport, but can you do the work in the classroom.
Academics plays a huge role in the college recruiting process. You are going to college for a reason and that is to get an education.
Antonio realized his mistakes with academics and he indicated to me that if he could go back and do it all over again, he would focus more intensely on bringing his grades up.
Now you would think that a basketball player who has those incredible numbers and good size like Antonio, would still be able to attract the attention of some of the top junior college programs in the country.
Antonio is not the first high school student athlete that had bad grades and ended up playing at the junior college level.
This kind of thing happens all the time to high school student athletes who end up in Antonio’s situation, receiving very little attention from any junior college program.
Part of the problem, according to Antonio, was his high school coach’s lack of involvement in the college recruiting process and the coach did not do anything to help get Antonio’s name out to junior college programs.
There are situations where high school coaches do absolutely nothing when it comes to the college recruiting process.
I have heard countless stories from a number of parents who feel that the high school coach would not do anything, or just did not know what they were doing.
Many parents and student athletes have been held hostage by high school coaches when it came to the college recruiting process.
The old ways of recruiting, in the minds of many parents and student athletes, is to rely heavily on the high school coach’s ability to get student athletes recruited and placed in college.
That is the mindset of many parents and student athletes who believe it is the high school coach’s responsibility to make something happen with recruiting.
In the case of Antonio, he felt that his high school coach could have done more.
Now it would be easy to say that because of the Antonio’s academic problems, that is mainly the reason why colleges is backed off but having bad grades coming out of high school is not a death sentence.
Having bad grades does that mean you cannot go to college, it just means you will have to take your talents to junior college.
All was not lost, however; Antonio ended up going to Northwest Community College in Mississippi.
Once Antonio started playing basketball for Northwest Community College he broke his wrist. Being the competitor that he is he tried to play through the injury but could not.
Because of the injury Antonio missed the entire basketball season but this young man continued to go to class and do everything he could to stay in shape and get back out there on the basketball court.
The wrist injury prevented Antonio from playing basketball which led to him gaining 20 pounds and was very much out of shape.
At the end of the basketball season, there was a coaching change at Northwest Community College.
The new coach had a different direction he wanted to go and wanted to bring in his players.
Antonio felt that the new coach was giving him the runaround and not giving him a fair opportunity to showcase his skills.
Antonio decided to transfer to a NAIA basketball program but all of his college credits from the junior college did not transfer which made him ineligible for the first semester of basketball competition.
By the end of the first semester, Antonio was done with basketball at the college level.
What is so incredibly amazing about this story is that most of this took place within about a year’s time or thereabouts.
What is also even more amazing is that a very talented high school basketball player never played one game in college.
This is a young man who, in his high school career, was averaging 30 points per game and had some interests from college programs but no help from his high school coach.
Looking back, Antonio told me that there would be a lot of things he would do differently. Antonio truly believes that the college recruiting process starts when a student athlete enters the ninth grade.
He believes that’s when student athletes need to focus on their academics, improving their athletic abilities, and most importantly outside of academics, lay the groundwork for the college recruiting process.
One of the strongest quotes Antonio has given me is: “Don’t depend too much on the high school coach for anything.”
Anything can happen to any high school student athlete. High school student athletes are not guaranteed much. Student athletes can suffer injury that could derail or end their athletic career.
You could struggle academically which might force you into a musical chairs of college programs where you may end up never playing a single game, just like Antonio.
The college recruiting process, in my opinion, starts when a student athlete enters their freshman year of high school and it does not end until there is a scholarship or a strong financial package in writing.
There are a huge number, and I mean a huge number, of high school student athletes from all sports who end up in college programs beneath their athletic ability or never playing a single game in college.
It happens to student athletes every year, we sometimes just don’t hear about it.
You only get one chance to go from high school athlete to college athlete. What are you going to do every day to see that you don’t end up with nothing?
Antonio did go on to join the National Guard but I am sure he would have rather been a division one college basketball star. This story is so real because it happens to so many high school student athletes.
What I’d like to say about the recruiting process is that there are thousands, if not more, high school student athletes who are unaware that they could fall into the same college recruiting merry go round that Antonio fell victim to.
There are so many happy-go-lucky high school players who truly believe that their athletic talents will supersede their academic shortcomings, somehow believing that they will reach college athletics stardom anyway.
Antonio was lucky because he found the National Guard and is still involved with basketball but there are student athletes who are lost without sports in their lives.
For some of them it’s almost like nothing else matters in life without athletics. We know sports can lead young people into many positive directions long after their playing days are over.
Unfortunately, far too many student athletes will never experience what is like to truly be a complete student athlete.
Far too many high school student athletes are going to fall victim to poor academic performance or will have a high school coach who barely does anything to help them with recruiting.
Some high school student athletes are in school districts that are so raggedy and broken down that they barely graduate high school and because they are ill-prepared for college, they are forced to go to a junior college to learn the academic skills that they need to move forward.
For a lot of young people, sports is everything; it’s their entire world, it’s the reason many young people get up every morning to go to school, it’s the reason they are motivated to do well in the classroom.
Finally, one of the last thing; Antonio said to me during our conversation that he wants to give back to the game of basketball and help other players so they don’t have to go through some of the same circumstances as he did.