By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer
Home sweet home.
Mr. Basketball, Walt Allen returned to the place he called home on Tuesday for the past five years as a South Laurel Cardinal.
Allen and the Kentucky All-Stars invaded South Laurel High School to face off against the Derek Smith All-Stars in an exhibition game that pitted Allen against former teammates, Jordan Hammonds and Billy Jones.
As usual, Allen tried to keep a low profile on the court, not wearing the customary number one jersey reserved for Mr. Basketball.
Though he has just become acquainted with him, Kentucky All-Star coach Tim Riley said Allen not wearing the number one jersey is just typical Walt.
“That kid is just an off the charts good kid,” Riley said. “I saw that he came out in the number 12 and I said ‘Walt, where is your jersey’, and he said ‘I don’t know coach, I just grabbed one out of the box.
“The reason he is Mr. Basketball is because the success of his team and the person he is inside,” he added. “On top of all that, Walt is a fun guy to be around.”
Allen had fun, scoring nine points in the game as the Kentucky All-Stars walked away with a 120-93 win, but the story may have been the face-off between Allen and Hammonds.
Despite being the underdogs, Allen said Hammonds had been talking trash for a few weeks about the game.
“He has talked some serious smack,” Allen said. “Talking about how bad they were going to beat us.
“Of course I replied with the usual silence,” Allen said jokingly. “I told him my basketball will do the talking on the court.”
After the game, Hammonds down-played the trash talking bit, probably due to Allen’s dominance when the two were paired up.
“Yeah, Walt got a pretty good basket over me, but that’s OK,” Hammonds said. “He didn’t say too much after the score, just a friendly bump. I’m sure he will remind me of it later on tonight.”
South Laurel coach Steve Wright said he was used to the two of them battling with each other and that tonight was nothing compared to what he had seen.
“We have had to separate those two more than once on the practice floor,” he said. “But what stands out to me is that no matter what, they came back the next day like best friends.”
Win or lose, both Allen and Hammonds agreed it was nice to be back on the court together one last time.
“This was nice,” Hammonds said. “Good for the fans and fun for us to be able to play these guys.”
“It felt really good to come back out on this floor and go away with a win,” Allen said. “South Laurel has meant a lot to me and I’m glad I got to come back one last time and show my appreciation.”
By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer
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