BRANDON — Shooting has always come naturally for Blake Allen, who can connect from the baseline, the top of the key or inside the arc.
Quite frankly, it's easy to understand why.
He got an early start.
"I've pretty much been shooting my whole life," Allen said. "When I came home from the hospital, my dad had a Fisher-Price hoop ready for me in the crib."
Now a senior shooting guard at Brandon, the 6-foot, 170-pound Allen enters tonight's 8:30 game against Lakewood in the Class 5A state semifinals with 1,995 career points and 380 3-pointers.
"He's a great shooter," Brandon coach Mark Hermann said.
And a valuable one.
To further illustrate this, backtrack to the Eagles' Jan. 18 game at King. At one point in the second half, Brandon led by only five. Twenty seconds and two Allen 3-pointers later, the Eagles were ahead by 11.
"That's what he can do," Hermann said.
Colleges have taken notice.
USC Upstate, a Division I program that plays in the Atlantic Sun Conference with schools such as Jacksonville and Stetson, has offered Allen a scholarship. American University, Boston University, the Citadel, St. Bonaventure and Wofford also are actively recruiting him.
For the record, Allen isn't just a shooter.
"He's a scorer, too," Hermann said. "He finds ways to score. Not only is he a great spot-up shooter, but he can penetrate."
Statistics back that up.
On an Eagles team that is 24-4, Allen is shooting 49 percent from the field and averages team bests in scoring (18.3 points) and assists (3.8). His shots are split almost evenly between field goals and 3-pointers.
"I used to be mostly an (outside shooter)," said Allen, who began his career at Tampa Baptist (now Tampa Bay Christian) before transferring to Brandon for his junior season. "But then I learned how to penetrate. That helped tremendously."
For Brandon, Allen is the perfect complement to inside players Marcus Morrison and Evan Ravenel, who are 6-6 and 6-8, respectively. Allen's outside capabilities have kept defenses honest, and that has been critical to the team's postseason run.
"He really opens things up," Hermann said.