Roman's Allen Betrand (above) committed to Towson last week. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Jeff Griffith (@Jeff_Griffith21)
Last summer, as then-Samuel Fels point guard Allen Betrand began to pick up some steam on the recruiting landscape entering his junior year of high school, he knew it was time to start making a name for himself.
After picking up offers over that summer from in-state Division I programs like Robert Morris, La Salle, and St. Joseph’s, Bertrand made the move to Roman Catholic, where he flourished as a junior, leading his team with 15.3 ppg.
“It was tough, I had to grow into a player that everybody knew,” he said. “Especially starting in the Pub at Fels until I went to Roman. It helped me build a lot. I never played in a system like that before, and I grew as a player and understanding the game more in the Catholic League.”
A strong week in April that saw Betrand add offers from four more mid-majors certainly solidified his improvement made at the Catholic League power, but it was an offer from Towson just three weeks ago that finally marked the end of the rising senior’s recruitment.
Last Friday, with his senior year just about to begin, Betrand announced his commitment to play for the Tigers and head coach Pat Skerry.
“The coach was honest with me,” Betrand said of his decision to head to Towson. “Honestly, I thought it was the best situation for me.”
According to Roman Catholic head coach Matt Griffin, Betrand’s growth as a player throughout his junior year and first year as a Cahillite made a major difference for both parties.
“I saw a drastic improvement,” Griffin said. “Whenever the coaching staff was trying to implement or put in, he did a good job of really, really embracing it and challenging himself to really become a better leader and better teammate. I just saw an incredible improvement from the start of the season to the end.”
Following the upcoming season, Towson will graduate five members of its backcourt, including the likes of 6-foot-1 Cincinnati transfer Deshaun Morman and last year’s leading scorer, 6-foot-5 Mike Morsell (13.4 ppg).
As a result, the Tigers will certainly have some breathing room at the guard position for Betrand to potentially work his way into some playing time early on in his career.
Such an opportunity — as well as the kind of effort Skerry put into building a relationship with Betrand and his family — helped attract the 6-foot-3 guard to Towson.
“He told me that there were some minutes for me, but I was going to have to earn them,” Betrand said. “I’m going to have to work hard and stuff like that. He called me everyday. He’d see how my family was doing. That’s the kind of stuff I like.”
Betrand, of course, wasn’t the only member of his family who felt Towson would be the perfect fit for his basketball future.
His mother — referred to by Betrand as the one he leaned on throughout the recruitment process — played a key role in his decision.
“She liked everything,” Betrand said. “She liked the coach, she liked the environment, she liked everything about it.”
Griffin certainly agreed that Towson would be a great fit for his rising senior leader.
“I think it’s a phenomonal fit,” he said. “Because Coach Skerry, their style of play, which is gritty, it’s hard-nosed, it’s about toughness, they play great defense, I think that fits him to a ‘T.’ And I think he’ll make an impact right away.”
When he arrives at Towson in a year’s time, Betrand will join a fellow Catholic League standout in Neumann-Goretti alum Zane Martin is currently entering his sophomore season as a Tiger.
Martin, a 6-foot-4 guard, averaged 5.5 points in 14.2 minutes, having come off the bench in all 33 of Towson’s games; the Tigers went 20-13 with an 11-7 CAA mark in Martin’s first season.
According to Betrand — who spoke with his fellow Philadelphian on a visit to the Towson campus — freshman year for Martin brought similar challenges to what he’ll face in looking to earn playing time.
“(Martin) said it’s tough,” Betrand said. “His first year, it wasn’t easy. He had to earn it and he said he had to grow as an all-around basketball player.”
And for Betrand, who plans to study either a communications or business major, he’s ready for life on campus at Towson.
“I liked the academics,” he said. I seen a couple classrooms and I pictured me in them. And the people there. It was just a great experience there.”
“I’m just excited to go to college,” he added. “I just wanted to get this out of the way.”