While the women’s volleyball team finished its two-hour practice in Rex Pyles Arena, A-B’s 2003–4 men’s basketball team stretched in the corner waiting for the court to clear. Such is life at D-II schools, where several teams share the same practice facilities. Among the basketball players laughing and gesturing in the corner over God-knows-what on this sleepy afternoon in late October was senior Josh Allen, who had recently been selected as an honorable mention preseason D-II All-American candidate, the first A-B player to gain national attention in several years.
Although A-B coach Greg Zimmerman was thrilled for Allen, he honestly had no idea how his star forward had made the cut. Allen hadn’t participated in any high-powered basketball camps or summer leagues that might have won him wider acclaim. And, as well as Allen had performed as a junior, his stat line was hardly eye-popping: 13.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 4 assists per game.
Welcome to the crazy world of D-II punditry. Although most college basketball scribes can rattle off the names of the top D-I stars without effort, few have a clue about who’s hot and who’s not in the D-II game. For those assigned to compile a preseason D-II All-American team, the job often entails calling the headquarters of the better-known D-II conferences and gathering a few names, meaning the most enthusiastic endorsement on the other end of the line can determine which players receive the AllAmerican mention.
According to Will Prewitt, the WVIAC’s deputy commissioner, he can get really enthusiastic about Josh Allen. “I got a call one day from a guy with Basketball Weekly who wanted to know who the best players in the league were,” said Prewitt, a slow-talking Kentucky native and a first-rate sports-information director. “I mentioned a few names, then I told him that we had one of the most versatile players in the country in Josh Allen. I said, ‘Don’t let his statistics fool you. He’s one of the best team players in the country.’”
A few weeks later, without a single so-called national expert ever watching