By Brandon Hansen for the CUJ
While four years of age and several times zones apart, brothers Tru and Trevon Allen, the two members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation have a bond that is hard to break.
Growing up in Lapwai, Idaho, the two went to Clarkston High School in Washington and each made their mark in the state basketball scene.
Trevon led Clarkston to back-to-back 2A State Championships and then was a star basketball player for the Idaho Vandals in the Big Sky Conference.
Tru was named the 2A Player of the year and 1st-Team All-Stater for Clarkston. He led his team to an upset of the No. 1 ranked 2A team in the state and reached the state championship game. Now he is playing at Northwest Nazarene, playing NCAA Division II basketball.
With the age difference, Trevon spent his first year as a professional basketball player in Poland while Tru played his first year as a collegiate athlete in Idaho.
“Even though he was overseas, we Facetime all the time,” Tru explained. “He has given me a lot of advice on what to do at this level and I’m watching how he does in his games and studying aspects of how he is playing. He is giving me advice on what to do to get better.”
Meanwhile Trevon said he has been staying up until 2,3,4 a.m. in the morning in Poland to watch his brother play.
“I learned just as much from his game,” Trevon said. “I look at what he does, and we reach out and talk about all types of things and life and we try and help each other.”
Trevon and Tru’s mother Sonya is a CTUIR member as is their grandmother, Rose Samuels. While they grew up on the Nez Perce Reservation, they said that support from both communities was felt while growing up.
“It’s a blessing,” Tru said. “It was amazing how much love and support I get. Sometimes I get random messages from people in Montana and South Dakota from tribal members saying ‘hey I saw you play I like your game.’ It’s really exciting.”
Trevon, playing at the same school that his father Alan Allen played football was a standout for the Idaho Vandals in the Big Sky Conference. In a league where the bottom team can beat the top team on any given night, one geared for guards, speed and unconventional big men, Trevon stood out. He finished second in conference scoring and fifteenth in the nation for NCAA Division I, averaging 21.6 points per game and scoring in double digits for 28 games. His excellent play opened up the door to play overseas where the 6’2” point guard found a position on the Polpharma Starogard Gdanski professional team in Poland.
“I spent my whole life having family members and people I recognize in the stands,” Trevon said. “To go from that to playing overseas with nobody in the stands because of COVID-19 really caused me to reflect back on myself and build the passion to play the game.”
In his rookie season, Trevon averaged 19.4 points per game, while hauling in 5.2 rebounds and dishing out 2.8 assists.
Meanwhile, Tru was on a Northwest Nazarene team that qualified for the NCAA Division II tournament, downing No. 4-seeded Point Loma in the first round, then upsetting the No. 1-ranked team in the nation, Colorado Mesa University, with a 74-54 victory to reach the Sweet Sixteen.
“Just getting to be on the NCAA Tournament court felt like another level, but our coach said ‘just play,’” Tru said.
“Personally, I try and carry myself with a lot of confidence, so when I hear ‘No. 1 team’ I don’t look into that because once you start playing, it doesn’t matter.”
But like Trevon, Tru also had to play in front of no fans because of COVID-19, meaning there wasn’t that presence of community and support in the stands.
“Geez, I don’t think my parents have missed a game of ours other than COVID-19,” Tru explained. “They would split up on the weekend when we were playing for different teams.”
Trevon said while he was playing for Idaho, he would be leaving 10-20 tickets every game at Will Call for friends and family.
“That was always a motivating factor, they had come to watch and support me so I had to put on a show for them and compete to my highest level,” Trevon said.
Both players said they feel like they are representing the tribal communities they came from.
“When I am playing overseas, people say they don’t know where Idaho was, and then when I say I am from a Native American reservation, that really sparks their interest because they have not met many Native Americans in their experiences,” Trevon said. “I carry a lot of weight on my shoulders in representing where I came from. One of my main goals is to gain knowledge and show that this can be done by someone from a small town or reservation. I want to prepare future generations of kids and show them what they need to do to chase their dreams.”
“Being from the Umatilla Tribe and growing up on the Nez Perce reservation, it’s exciting to see the energy and support,” Tru said. “There is just a lot of support and love there. “
Both players will continue to hone in their craft, exchange their experiences and advice, and work hard to play at the highest level that they possibly can. Both had to go through a lot this season being away from family and not having fans to play for, but a strong work ethic instilled by their parents and a drive to represent their community has served them well in two different settings on the globe.