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Wood product Ryanne Allen excited for local reunion at Villanova

05/08/2024, 9:45am EDT
By Andrew Robinson

Andrew Robinson (@ADRobinson3)

It’s not where a journey starts but where it ends, although Ryanne Allen hopes those can be one and the same.

Ryanne Allen (above) transferred to Villanova after two years at Vanderbilt. (Photo courtesy Villanova athletics)

After two seasons at Vanderbilt, the former Archbishop Wood standout is coming home. Allen announced on Friday that she was committing to Villanova out of the transfer portal, aiming to end her college career in close proximity to where everything started for her.

Judging by the reaction her announcement got -- including from former Viking and now Villanova teammate Kaitlyn Orihel -- there’s a lot of people happy to have her home.

“It felt like a true homecoming,” Allen said. “So many people were reaching out, just excited back in the area and being able to see me play again with Kaitlyn, it felt really good.”

Allen adds to the reinforcements the Wildcats have signed out of the portal as Villanova’s roster reshapes following the 2023-24 season. While the Wildcats reached the WBIT championship game, they saw Lucy Olsen (Iowa), Christina Dalce (Maryland) and Zanai Jones (SMU) transfer out and Bella Runyan opt not to use her fifth season of eligibility, meaning four of last year’s starting five are out.

In comes Lara Edmanson from Santa Clara and Bronagh Power-Cassidy from Holy Cross as grad transfers and Allen with two seasons of eligibility. The 6-foot Edmanson is originally from Melbourne, Australia while the 5-foot-10 Power-Cassidy comes to the Main Line by way of Dublin, Ireland.

Allen, who is from Perkasie, meanwhile bolsters a local contingent on the Wildcats’ roster. With CB West alum Maddie Burke taking her fifth year to stay with ‘Nova plus Denae Carter (St. Basil's) back from injury next year, along with former PCL foes in Annie Welde (Cardinal O’Hara) and Maggie Grant (Archbishop Carroll) plus her former Wood running mate in Orihel, Allen is looking forward to seeing some familiar faces.

“It’s a motion offense, so I’m excited to see how I can operate in it and use my shooting ability,” Allen said. “I know there’s a lot of new pieces coming in, so it’s going to be important to be together a lot as a team and figure out what everyone can do and what everyone’s good at. I’m looking forward to seeing where that can go.”

As a freshman at Vanderbilt, the 6-foot-1 Allen played in 30 games with the Commodores, making seven starts while posting 6.4 points per game, shooting 35.9% on threes and 2.5 rebounds per contest. This past year, the guard played in 28 games, but saw her minutes reduced and averaged 2.4 ppg while still hitting 37.5% on threes.

The PCL’s MVP as a senior in 2021-22, Allen admitted there was some trepidation putting her name in the portal. 

Villanova was among the many suitors Allen had coming out of Wood, so she already knew coach Denise Dillon and when the Wildcats contacted her through the portal, there was definite interest. Allen said she ended up taking three official visits while weighing her options but the appeal of coming back home was a strong pull in Villanova’s favor.

“Going into the portal, I really didn’t know how the process was going to go but when they reached out, I was definitely interested in talking to them,” Allen said. “I knew Coach (Denise) Dillon from before, so being able to reconnect and hear what they had to offer, I was all-in. Going on my visit, it felt like the right fit and the right place for me.”

Getting to share the floor with Orihel again was also a strong pull. At Wood, Orihel and Allen were a dynamic one-two punch, as reflected in their current standings as the program’s first and second all-time leading scorers respectively.

Kaitlyn Orihel (above) averaged 6.0 ppg as a junior. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

They won the 2020-21 PIAA 4A state title in their last game playing together, the first of the now four straight state championships the Vikings have won, with Allen leading Wood to a repeat in her senior year the next season. Orihel, a two-time PA state player of the year, is coming off her best season at Villanova after making eight starts in 33 games and averaging career highs in scoring and minutes.

Once Orihel found out about a potential reunion with Allen, she didn’t want to let it get away. After Allen announced her commitment on Instagram, Orihel reposted it with a simple message of “Run it back.”

“She texted me before my visit, I hadn’t seen her in what felt like a really long time before the visit but she just kept texting me and checking in on me,” Allen said. “She was the first person I texted after I committed, so that was pretty cool and then (Wood) Coach Mike (McDonald’s) reaction, I know he’s really excited to have me back around.”

Allen stayed connected to the Wood program, even while away. She was able to come back in March and helped present Ava Renninger with a basketball commemorating Renninger’s 1000th point. Vikings junior Emily Knouse, a St. Joe’s commit who played one year with Allen at Wood, commented “See you in the Big 5” on Allen’s announcement post.

“Wood’s a big part of who I am as a person and player, I give a lot of that to Coach Mike,” Allen said. “I’ve definitely continued to follow and keep up with the Wood program. Emily Knouse, I love that kid, I wanted to keep her under my wing because I knew she could be something special and that goes true for all the girls at Wood.

“Wood’s always a place I will support, no matter what.”

Allen said she’ll be moving onto campus next month to join her new team for its summer workouts and to start getting to know her new teammates. With the state of college basketball now, teams are going to see increased changes from year to year as players come and go.

“You’re never going to be on the same team, in some way, every year’s going to be a different team so you’re always going to be adjusting to new players and the continuity of the team,” Allen said. “It’s almost like a restart at ‘Nova.”

The Ryanne Allen that’s coming home isn’t the same one that left two years ago, but the people in her corner are just happy to have her back. She’s just as elated to be back and she’s still got plenty to give.

“I’ve grown up in a way,” Allen said. “Going into college, I wasn’t even 18 yet. Going two years away from home, having to figure things out for myself and adapt, I’ve mentally matured, I’ve physically matured and I’m continuing to use all my experience to continue to grow.”

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