By Kiara N. Braithwaite
Now that the 2013-14 college basketball season is coming to an end, it’s an opportune time to reflect on the LIU Post men’s basketball team’s only graduating senior, Vaughn Allen.
From game winning buckets to rim-rocking dunks, there was no shortage of sensational highlights by Allen. Allen, a Broadcasting major, was born in Bronx, New York, and currently resides in Mount Vernon, New York. In fall 2010, Allen found a home-away-from home at LIU Post. The experience was nerve-racking—Allen was the only freshman among the team’s returning players. It was a rough experience for Allen because he felt that the coaches and players were being really hard on him. However, he knew that he had to earn his stripes on the court and allow his talent to speak for him.
He fully absorbed all of the constructive criticism because he knew that they were all there to guide him and never to discourage him.
The journey of being a student athlete is easily compared with taking on two jobs or even the equivalent of double majoring. Allen explained that throughout his first year as a student athlete, it was very difficult to manage his schoolwork and social life.
Over the course of his four years on the LIU Post men’s basketball team, Allen has so far averaged 17.2 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. His experience on-and-off the court was an up-and-down roller coaster.
However, with the guidance of Christopher Casey, LIU Post head coach during the fall 2012- spring ‘13; Erik Smiles, LIU Post head coach during the fall 2013-spring ‘14; and Devine Smith, LIU assistant coach during the fall 2013-spring ‘14, Allen has been able to gradually mature as a player and as a man.
Specifically, Allen mentioned how Smith would take him to church every Sunday to keep him motivated and spiritually grounded. He learned to control his temper in games and has acquired the ability to always stay humbled.
The Pioneer (TP): How does it feel to be the team’s only senior?
Vaughn Allen (VA): I feel like I have a lot of pressure on me. I know everyone looks highly towards me as captain. I have to carry myself in a calm, cool, and professional manner to display the qualities of a role model to all of the lower classmen.
TP: What are you going to miss most about being on the team and at LIU Post?
VA: I am going to miss the student athlete experience. Specifically, I’m going to miss my teammates, practices, and mandatory study hours. I am most definitely going to miss all of my coaches and their constructive criticism. Coming from high school, we obviously do not have dorms so when entering LIU Post, I feel like I have more freedom while experiencing dorm life.
TP: Talk about one of your favorite times on the team and at LIU Post?
VA: In my freshman year season, I experienced my first championship game. We played our rivals, the Purple Knights of Bridgeport, away in Connecticut. We were both considered the best in our conference. I was nervous because five games before, our starting player had gotten hurt, which forced me to step up and become starter. I had a do-or-die mentality. It was either we give it our all and win, or we allow them to get the best of us and lose. I fed off the energy of my returning teammates and we prevailed. My favorite time at LIU Post was when I went out with my teammates. We went to a nearby club called Dublins. It was a great bonding experience as a freshman and I was really excited to go.
TP: What are your plans after graduation?
VA: I am going to weigh my options and see what opportunities are given to me when my season is over and go from there. I have an open mind about my future, and I’m going to take my time on what’s going to be my next move.
TP: If you could have a conversation with young Vaughn, what would you say to him?
VA: Don’t walk out of practice! Your coaches are there to motivate you towards bigger and better things to help the program flourish. Always believe in your abilities and work hard, and always stay humble and grounded. Your success is the team’s success.
TP: If you could go back and change anything during you time here at LIU Post, what would it be?
VA: When I first got into college, I had a cocky attitude because I allowed the comments of everyone mold my perception of my basketball potential. People were telling me how good I was and I was not humble. I started to listen to my coaches more because I felt that I was hurting myself more than helping myself because I had a closed mind to events in my life.
TP: Now that you’re done, what advice can you give to the team?
VA: Always stay humble and always stay positive. There will always be adversities surrounding you all in life. When adversity hits, that’s when the true character of a man shows. Never get down on yourself, and always believe in yourself and the team. Always follow the systems of the coaches because they are coaches for a reason. They are going to lead you all to positive things and championships.