For the first time in school history, North Little Rock has a boys’ basketball Arkansas Gatorade Player of the Year.
Last week, junior Kevaughn Allen was announced as the Arkansas Gatorade Player of the Year. Not only is the award based on athletic achievement, but also on grade point average and community service. That part is what makes North Little Rock Coach Johnny Rice proud.
"It is a great accomplishment individually and a great accomplishment for our program," Rice said. "KeVaughn is a great player, and I’m sure our state championship had a lot to do with it."
Rice said he received nominations forms to fill out not only for Allen but also for senior Anton Beard. Rice said the process was fairly lengthy, and the guys had to get letters of recommendation from other teachers.
"He deserves it," Beard said. "He’s a kid that comes every day focused and works hard."
Allen averaged 21 points, 6 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 3.2 steals a contest as the Charging Wildcats finished 26-2 and won a second 7A state title. The 6-foot-3, 170-pound guard was the Arkansas sophomore of the year last season and is ranked 27th in the recruiting class of 2015 by ESPN. Those accolades are not what endear Allen to Rice.
"The thing about him is he has never missed a practice," Rice said. "He is consistent and never has a bad day. Even if he doesn’t feel good, he’s the same every day. He is the most coachable player, takes criticism and wants to learn."
Allen volunteers with youth basketball teams, food pantries and Shop With a Cop program that buys Christmas gifts for families in need. He also has the attention of other coaches, and Searcy Coach Jimmy Summers was quoted on the USA Today site announcing the Gatorade selections.
"Allen is on another level," Summers said. "He’s got great athleticism, and he’s really special in how smooth he plays. The game slows down for him, and he makes all the right decisions."