It was November 2014 as I was sitting in my chair commentating a Pro B game between the Fraport Skyliners Juniors and Lich and enjoying a tight game. It had been a little more than 4 months since Germany had won their 4th Football World Cup, Luka Doncic was relatively unknown and Patriots corner back Malcolm Butler was a few months away from helping New England win another Super Bowl and giving Rusell Wilson long nightmares about making the worst decision of his career. In this game as usual, Frankfurt had many young German talents on the floor and Lich did as well, but also 2 Americans that I would begin to accompany in their illustrious careers. The one player was a energetic guard named Jermale Jones who I had actually interviewed for the first time a season before and had done it twice, while on this evening, I was introduced to Elijah Allen (194-PF-1989, college: NW Missouri St.) a player that was slowly beginning to make his trek up the basketball ladder having played previously in the Regionalliga for the Giessen Pointers. The two Americans had to pay their dues their whole careers having played JUCO and NCAA 2 and on his night demonstrated their unique skills combining for 30 points and helping squeak out a 63-59 win on the road. Almost 8 years later, both guys have had great careers proving that it never matters where you played in school, but only what you bring on the court. Jones last played in Libya while Elijah Allen played his last game in May 2021 with Bochum and now officially has announced his retirement at age 32 playing 10 years of professional ball. He was unable to come up with how many times I have interviewed him over the years, but in 10 years, it was 13 times. It seems like it was just yesterday when we sat down and talked about basketball for the first time. ‘Time did fly by. I made sure to embrace it all along the way’, stressed Elijah Allen. For some guys deciding to hang it up can be a very difficult decision, but he was at peace with not continuing to play the game he loves despite knowing he could of still played. ‘For me it wasn’t a hard decision to retire. My business is going well and it made sense to stop. I could have pushed it a few more years but ultimately I don’t think It would be worth it to me’, added Elijah Allen. He didn’t play last season and one could of thought that Covid might have played a role. ‘Covid didn’t have a role at all. I had a few pro A/B offers and offers outside the country but chose to go a different route’, said Elijah Allen who viewed the sequel to the classic Coming To America and actually liked it.
Elijah Allen who believes that Steph Curry is the greatest point guard of all-time was born on September 18th, 1989 in Columbus, Ohio began his career at St. Francis de Sales High School where he left as the all-time leading scorer. He then embarked on a career at Northwest Missouri State University (NCAA2) from 2007-2011 playing a total of 103 games and won the 2008 MIAA title. His best statistical season was his junior year where he averaged 17.6ppg, 6.2rpg, 1.2spg, FG: 54.2%, FT: 78.4%. In his last 3 years in school he averaged 15,2ppg and 5.8rpg. His coach in the NCAA 2 Ben Mccullum was instrumental in him leaving school and going into his overseas challenge with the right frame of mind. Of course that and his Columbus upbringing never losing that chip on his shoulder also helped. ‘That’s just how we are bred from where I’m from. If you make it out of Columbus, Ohio then you feel everything is achievable. Ben showed me how to have a good work ethic and how to handle myself off the court. The values that he put in me I’ll keep forever’, stressed Elijah Allen. He then chose to go overseas and start a professional career in Ireland. For some Americans that first year is so vital, because they learn if they are cut out to play overseas. Many guys can’t handle it and rapidly speed back home and never return. That rookie season wasn’t easy for him, but he stuck it out remembering what his wake up call was to being far away from home. ‘The culture is just different. The food, the people, the way people dress, the language. Also not getting paid what your worth. The list can go on for days’, said Elijah Allen. He then moved to Germany and played 2 seasons for 4th division team Giessen Pointers (Regionalliga)playing a total of 51 games. It is no secret that in lower leagues overseas you play for peanuts, but once again he didn’t complain, but just remembered where he came from and that he had always had to pay his dues so why not again. He quickly made a name for himself averaging 16.4ppg, 5.0rpg, 1.0apg, 1.1spg in his first season and made a jump in his second season averaging 20.0ppg, 6.4rpg, 1.3apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 58.7%, 3PT: 30.7%, FT: 68.4%. In these 2 years he played for head coach Dejan Kostic who had the biggest impact of all coaches he ever played for overseas.
The Ohio native who lists Rob Nortman, Viktor Zyring, Killian Dietz, Justin Headly, and Robert Franklin as his best teammates of all-time continued to climb up the basketball ladder, but it went at a snail pace. But once again he took a long breath and just trusted and accepted the process. He continued to grind and get better and showed again that he could be a good player at the next level Pro B. He put on the Lich jersey for 2 seasons playing a total of 55 games averaging 10.4ppg, 4.1rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 54.9%, 3PT: 20.0%, FT: 72.2% in his first season and 13.0ppg, 5.0rpg, 1.9apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 49.5%, 3PT: 36.2%, FT: 69.3% in his second season. It was here that he became teammates with Jermale Jones. Despite playing together for only 2 seasons, he still has contact to him today. He will never forget how he could take over games at any time. ‘Jermale was a good player and stayed humble. He definitely could score on any level’, remembered Elijah Allen. Later he would play 2 more seasons in the Pro B with Iserlohn and Bochum. He played a total of 91 Pro B games. He scored in double figures 59 games including exploding for 34 points against Saarlouis in a 100-95 win. He won the duel against Mr regionalliga Ricky Easterling who had 32 points He had other great Pro B gams with 28 points against Bochum and 26 points against Bernau. After 5 years of paying his dues, he made the next step again and played 3 seasons in the German basketball second division called Pro A. He began with Gotha where he played for head coach Chris Ensminger. The ex BBL champion gave him his first opportunity to play in the Pro A. It is fair to say that he enjoyed this season very much. ‘Talent wise I knew I could play on any level but having the opportunity that he gave me changed everything. I would say moving Gotha to the BBL was my fondest moment. Many things happened off the court and that made everything bitter sweet’, remembered Elijah Allen. He was in his prime during his Pro A time, but he didn’t make the next step to the first league BBL. To be able to play so long not only requires determination, will and always grinding, but you also need self-confidence. Having that definatley allowed him to get as far as he did even if he never did get to the BBL. ‘I was missing nothing from reaching the BBL. Of course there was room to always get better but as far as missing definitely not. Could handle, shoot, guard different positions and was a good teammate. Everytime playing a higher level club I showed it also. I had my opportunities to go to the BBL but did not take them due to personal reasons’, warned Elijah Allen. In 100 Pro A games, he scored in double figures in 33 games and scored 18 points against Trier, Ehingen and Artland.
The forward who ranks Chris Hooper, Jaleen Smith, Rasheed More, Robert Ohle, and Ricky Easterling as his toughest opponents of all-time now is already in full swing with life after competing as a professional player. Currently he is in Amsterdam, Holland working a camp with DBX. In the last years he had already gotten a feel with what he would do with his life after playing, so the transition has been a smooth one. ‘I run @progressyourgame trainings for kids and pros and will start up another summer league next summer. I will not do it full time. I have a video business filming things and will continue to travel to different countries teaching basketball’, stated Elijah Allen. He never got anything given to him in his career, but he had to work hard every day for everything he got. It is no surprise that his attitude is one where he will never forget exactly how much sweat and pain he had to endure to reach his goals and attain such a long career. One can also see that he must of endured some painful hardships along the way as well with people. ‘I am a to myself kind of person so I would say I had the biggest influence on my career. No one had an influence on me staying. After every season you build relationships with people and they fall out because of distance. Keeping my head and focusing on my own goals kept me achieving my personal goals. For me I don’t really care what people think. Everyone will have their own opinion. I gave my all to the sport and I did that for me. I pushed my teammates to get better and left my all on the floor. I’m leaving the game with no regrets’, remembered Elijath Allen. I will always remember him as being a real fighter and warrior who had a huge heart and always left everything on the floor. We had a very professional working relationship. I was always content when he took the time and patience to answer all my question which were never short. The mutual respect will always be there. ‘Thanks for that Miles. I will remember you as someone who took his job seriously and gave people a voice to be able to tell their unique story’, commented Elijah Allen. All the best for you in the next chapter in your life. I hope that our paths cross again one day as usual probably in a gym.