Allison Day stands out on the basketball court.
The 6-foot-1 Eastern Brown senior didn’t only stand out to those watching during the Lady Warriors’ Southern Hills Athletic Conference games, but stood out to coaches at the next level as well.
Day made it official that she would continue her academic and basketball career in college, as she signed with Loyola University Chicago on Wednesday.
“It feels great. It gives me a chance to relax a little bit. Committing was a big breather, but now it’s official, I’m all signed and it’s set in stone,” said Day. “Especially being hurt, it gives me something in the future to look forward to.”
In addition to playing for Kevin Pickerill at Eastern Brown, Day played AAU basketball for Dante Harlan on the Cincinnati Angels. At an AAU tournament near the end of May, Day suffered a knee injury, knocking her out for the rest of the summer and likely her entire senior season.
“I committed a week or two before I hurt myself at an AAU tournament. As soon as I called the [Loyola] head coach, coach Kate [Achter], she asked me, ‘How are you?’ I said, ‘My knee hurts,’ and she said, ‘No, how are you mentally?’" said Day. "She was never concerned about my knee injury because she knew I’d be ready. She kept reassuring me that I’d have my spot.”
Day had surgery on her knee on June 2 and is working on regaining her strength, but is not expected to play this winter, after leading Eastern to a berth in the OHSAA Division III Final Four last year.
During her high school career, Day has averaged 12.7 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. Last season, she earned SHAC Player of the Year honors and was selected Associated Press Division III Second Team All-State.
“Allison's game is as blue collar as it comes. She is tough and skilled around the rim, and she is capable of stretching the defense out to the perimeter. Allison brings a lot of length to our frontcourt, and isn't afraid of being physical inside,” said Achter in a release on the team’s website. “She is a great teammate and leader for her high school team and coach, Kevin Pickerill."
That leadership is something that has stood out to the fourth-year Eastern coach, especially during the postseason run that included a sectional final win against Rock Hill, a district final win over Southeastern and a regional final win over SHAC rival Lynchburg-Clay.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s in practice or in games, she makes everybody around her better,” said Pickerill. “She leads by example – she’s also a verbal leader – but she leads by example and it starts right there with her work ethic.”
Day’s leadership was clear all season, but arguably never more so than in a crucial game in determining the SHAC title at Lynchburg-Clay. The Lady Warriors had beaten the Lady Mustangs, 50-46, in the first meeting. The second meeting was tied at the half, 23-23.
She scored 17 of the team’s 21 points in the third quarter and added 11 more in the fourth, finishing with 36 points in the 67-57 win. She also had 14 rebounds.
“When we went into the locker room at half - I had sucked basically,” said Day. “We came out in the second half and everybody was playing the way we knew we could. It was just a big momentum change.”
Eastern’s run of 20 straight wins came to an end with a 58-34 loss to Versailles at the Jerome Schottenstein Center in the state semifinals – the team’s first trip to the Final Four since 2002.
“I’m so glad we made it to the Final Four while I was not hurt. I can at least say we went to the Final Four. It’s a crazy thing to look back on, like we went to final four? That happened?” said Day. “It’s something we can look back on and remember that our high school team went to the Final Four.”
Day was one of three players that signed for the Missouri Valley Conference school on Wednesday. Also signing for the Ramblers were Maya Dunson from Dayton, Ohio, and Janae Gonzales from Tolleson, Arizona. Day plans on studying business while in Chicago – her favorite city.
And while that March 17 game in Columbus is likely the last time Day will be on the floor in an Eastern jersey, she’s planning on being around the team at practices and games this winter before heading off to the next level.
“I like being there. I like being in the gym, getting a workout in, getting to shoot and getting to work on my own game. Some of them look at me as a leader, and a leader should be there to help them through practice,” said Day. “I’m kind of like their biggest cheerleader right now.”