05 June 2016

Allen Durham Puts Grace Bible in Basketball Map

Allen Durham
By Dean Holzwarth | grsports@mlive.com
MLive, 9 December 2010

If you don't know who Allen Durham is, you better ask someone.

The former Wyoming Park High School star just might be the biggest talent among men’s college basketball players in the area, but he also happens to perform on one of the smallest stages.

Durham, an athletic and imposing 6-foot-6 senior power forward, has helped put Grace Bible College, a small Christian-based school in Wyoming, on the map with back-to-back National Christian College Athletic Association Division II national championships.

"I don’t think I'm underrated, but I think people have Grace Bible College under the radar a little bit," Durham said. "It’s not (just about) me. It’s the team."

Durham's talent is unmistakable.

Ask the frustrated coaches who have had to come up with a game plan to stop the two-time All-American and the NCCAA national tournament’s most valuable player last year.

"We've played some awful good players in my years at Grand Valley State, but I can't remember a player who you felt could simply dominate the game at both ends the way Allen has the last few years," Davenport men's basketball coach Burt Paddock said. "I remember leaving the court last season and felt we did good job on him. However, I looked at the stat sheet and he had like 27 points and 12 rebounds."

"When we finished the game against them this year, I remember telling Allen I wasn’t sure if I was happier we won that particular game or the fact we’d never have to play him again," Paddock added.

"I am simply a huge fan of his."

Durham, 22 (in 2010), uses his brute strength to dominate the low block. He uses his athleticism and explosiveness to drive to the basket and dunk over unsuspecting opponents.

He can do it all -- which has earned him the respect of local coaches.

"There isn't any coach or player who has played against him who would underrate him, I can tell you that," said Calvin College coach Kevin Vande Streek, whose team lost to Grace last month at its own tournament.

"He probably doesn’t get the recognition because he plays at Grace, but he’s progressed so much in his time there. At first, he did some things around the basket, and then he got better and we had to double-team him and take him out of the game," he added. "And now, there isn’t a whole lot anybody can do with him, I don't think. He does a variety of things that make him so difficult to guard."

Durham came to Grace after graduating from Wyoming Park in 2006. He left after his freshman year due to financial limitations to attend Grand Rapids Community College, but did not play basketball.

He returned to Grace the following season and has been a staple in the Tigers’ frontcourt ever since. He has grown two inches and put on 40 pounds since his freshman season.

"Allen was a great high school player, but he was much smaller," Wyoming Park coach Thom Vander Klay said of Durham’s much more muscular frame these days. "He could finish everything inside and was long, but not as strong as he is now."

Durham didn’t play as a freshman in high school because of academic expectations. He wasn’t ineligible, but his mother, Monica, wasn’t satisfied with his performance in the classroom.

"She said I couldn’t play until I brought my grades up, and it changed the way I looked at school a lot," he said. "I was looking forward to playing basketball in high school, and it came down after football that my grades weren't up to par."

"It really hit me because I messed up. It snapped me into reality and, ever since then, my grades have been going up and up."

Durham is coming off a record-breaking junior campaign.

He set a single-season scoring record with 758 points last year. He went past Grace Bible coach Gary Bailey’s son, Kirby Bailey, who recorded 702 points in 2004-05.

Gary Bailey has watched first-hand Durham’s transformation into an elite player. But this past summer, he was curious how his star player would react to the news that an unnamed NCAA Division I program from the Big 12 Conference had inquired about him.

“I received a call from a Division I school this year that said they would love to have him for one year, his senior year,” Bailey said. “They said they would like to bring him out but, when I mentioned it to Allen, he said that he wanted to stay here. I think other people know that he can play at that level.”

Durham chose to end his career at Grace and is thriving once again for the No. 1-ranked NCCAA team in the nation.

He averages 21.1 points and 10.6 rebounds for the Tigers (12-2).

Durham solidified his place in school history last week when he became Grace’s all-time leading scorer with 1,963 points -- surpassing a record that stood for 44 years.

He scored 31 points in a win against Lincoln Christian University to move past Terry Ericson, who had the previous record of 1,952 since 1966.

A week earlier, Durham became Grace’s all-time leading rebounder with 1,040.

"It’s a big accomplishment for me and it’s really something special," the polite and humble Durham said. "But it’s also my team. They know when to look to me, and they help me out and give me the ball."

"I actually met the guy (Ericson) at the Davenport game, and that was pretty sweet. He said the level of competition now is a lot tougher than when he played."

Grace met Hope College in the Holland Sentinel Community Tournament, which provides another opportunity for the Tigers to knock off an NCAA Division III school.

"We like these games because we feel like we have something to prove as a smaller school," Durham said. "They are always fun."

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