For the first time in more than five years, the UK basketball program has signed a high school recruit from the state of Kentucky.
Pendleton County forward Dontaie Allen made his commitment official Friday, the third day of college basketball’s early signing period for high school seniors. The 6-foot-6 prospect from Falmouth committed to UK a little more than three months ago following a breakout summer with his M.A.T.T.S. Mustangs travel team culminated in a scholarship offer from the Cats.
John Calipari watched Allen with the Mustangs in July, and his official signing Friday marked the first time UK’s coach could comment publicly on the in-state commitment.
“Dontaie is one of Kentucky’s finest,” UK Coach John Calipari said in a statement released by UK. “I love Dontaie’s ability to score the ball in different ways. He’s got a lot of skills with the ball in his hands and athleticism to play above the rim. I’m always excited anytime there’s a player from our state who can come in and help this program and have an impact. Dontaie does all that for us.”
Allen was one of the best players in the state last season — averaging 31.8 points and 11.4 rebounds per game and shooting nearly 40 percent from three-point range — and he’ll go into his senior campaign as a frontrunner for Kentucky Mr. Basketball honors.
He’s the first in-state player to sign with the Wildcats since another Mr. Basketball, Dominique Hawkins of Madison Central, did the same in the spring of 2013. Bullitt East standout Derek Willis was also in UK’s recruiting class of 2013, signing with the Cats in November 2012.
When Calipari extended a scholarship offer to Allen during a campus visit in early August, the lifelong UK fan committed on the spot.
“Kentucky has always been in his heart,” Allen’s father, Tony Thomas, told the Herald-Leader at the time. “He has a chance to do a lot of big things. He already has a great following — with his community being behind him — and this just means so much. A kid coming from Kentucky, being a Kentucky fan growing up. It just means a lot to him.”
Allen is the No. 73 overall prospect nationally, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
“As far back as I can remember, I’ve been a UK fan,” Allen said in UK’s news release. “The walls in my room are painted UK blue with pictures of Rupp Arena hanging with hopes and dreams of someday playing there. So many great players have come through the University of Kentucky. Being born and raised in this great state, this has been a dream of mine.
“Competing against elite level players reminds me of what my parents always told me: ‘Steel sharpens steel.’ I carry that with me. Having the opportunity to play for a Hall of Fame Coach in Coach Cal at an elite program like Kentucky in front of the best fans in the world, the Big Blue Nation, I’m just blessed and very thankful. Big Blue dreams do come true.”
Two days earlier, UK announced that five-star point guard Tyrese Maxey had officially signed with the Wildcats. Maxey, a Texas native, is the No. 10 overall player in the 247Sports composite rankings.
“Tyrese has unbelievable competitive spirit,” Calipari said in a statement. “I love Tyrese’s basketball savvy. He has an elite ability to score the ball, yet he creates shots for his teammates, he defends and he rebounds. In all the time I’ve watched him play, rarely does he make the wrong play. He may not make every shot, but he almost always make the right play. You can tell that he’s a coach’s son. Physically he is going to be able compete with the best in the country.”
UK also has an early commitment from five-star wing Kahlil Whitney, a Chicago standout ranked No. 7 nationally in the 247Sports composite. Whitney has not yet officially signed with the Cats.
The early signing period ends Wednesday.