SEABROOK – The first call came seconds after Lindsay Allen’s name flashed on ESPN2 as the No. 14 pick in the WNBA Draft.
It was coach Bill Laimbeer welcoming her to the New York Liberty.
Allen opted for a low-key night at a friend’s apartment on April 13 to find out her professional fate. Once the Notre Dame guard was officially taken in the second round, the flood of congratulations caught her by surprise.
She was overwhelmed with calls and text messages from former teammates, coaches and competitors spanning a career that began in a Prince George’s County youth league.
“It was surreal, you know?” said Allen, who was born in Clinton and raised in Mitchellville.
Allen left Notre Dame as one of the most decorated players in the program’s history, from one of the game’s most accomplished programs. In March, she capped off a remarkable college career with an Elite Eight loss to Stanford.
Allen started all 149 games over four seasons and produced an ACC-record 841 assists to go along with 1,313 points and 229 steals. The Fighting Irish went 139-10 with the pass-first point guard running the show, highlighted by a pair of national title game appearances.
The milestones piled up in her senior season, but Allen did her best to block out the noise. That strategy worked, as she recorded 282 assists against only 79 turnovers on her way to the Associated Press third-team All-America honors.
With a chance to finally take a step back and reflect, Allen credited a meticulous commitment to routine and a little luck to staying healthy for her astonishing consistency.
“I just came in and worked hard every single day, put my head down and went to work,” Allen said. “I was surrounded by great teammates all four years and the best coaching staff in the country.
“I learned every single day from coach (Muffet) McGraw. Just being able to learn from her and pick her brain really helped me grow as a player.”
Allen’s impressive resume made her a coveted WNBA prospect. On draft night, she had to wait through a first round that saw University of Maryland stars Shatori Walker-Kimbrough (Washington) and Brionna Jones (Connecticut) go off the board.
With the second pick of the second round, New York made her its top selection. Allen had talked with Laimbeer and a couple of other Liberty representatives in the weeks leading up to the draft, so she wasn’t surprised where she landed.
She’ll join a club that went 21-13 last season and earned the Eastern Conference’s No. 3 playoff seed.
“She fits the mold of what we’re looking for,” Laimbeer told the Liberty’s web site. “Very high IQ. A solid competitor. Athletic. A good kid (who) gets along well with her teammates. Just the general package of what a good quality teammate is.”
Now, Allen is preparing for her shot in the WNBA. She’ll have to show she can direct an offense against improved competition and also reliably knock down the open jumpers sure to be available.
It’s not all that different from 2013, when the Notre Dame freshman shined in the preseason and won the chance to replace All-American Skylar Diggins in the Irish’s starting lineup.
Allen arrived in New York for training camp on April 21. She’s eager to earn a spot on the roster when the Liberty open the regular season May 13 at famed Madison Square Garden. The following weekend, she’ll officially earn her degree in management consulting from Notre Dame’s business school.
“You come into the WNBA with what you did in college and that skill set, but then, obviously, it’s about getting better,” Allen said. “I don’t think you ever want to regress. It’s all about improving on my game at the next level.”
Allen said she’s not feeling any pressure as she makes the leap to the next level. A reliable support system certainly helps.
After hanging up with Laimbeer on draft night, Allen’s next call came from her parents. Terrell and Lorna Allen were excited to see their daughter reach another long-term goal, but they quickly turned attention to more pressing matters.
They want to do all they could from Mitchellville to make sure Allen’s pro career starts just as smoothly as her time at Notre Dame.
“They were asking questions about my apartment, about my car, about when I would be leaving – you know, little things like that,” Allen said with a laugh. “Just making sure I’m all wrapped up here and ready to take on the next chapter.”
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