By Mallory Allen, Mara Allen, and Lindsey Gloede
Larry Bird famously said, “A winner is someone who recognizes his God-given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills, and uses those skills to accomplish his goals.”
16-year-old Amari Allen exemplifies these words. For him, basketball truly is life – and earlier this year, more than a decade of his dedication and perseverance came to full fruition.
On January 6th, the Kaukauna freshman received his first scholarship offer: a full ride to Division 1 Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. For Allen, that moment couldn’t have been more surreal. “I wasn’t expecting it so early. It came out of nowhere. There were a lot of emotions.”
Mike Schalow, on the other hand, wasn’t shocked; at least, not for the same reason. “Actually, I was surprised it had taken that long,” says Kaukauna’s boys basketball coach of 27 years. “In the summer, there was a lot of noise going around. I thought maybe somebody might offer even before Amari’s freshman year began.”
Allen began playing basketball when he was three years old. His grandfather, Tom Servais, introduced it to him. “I got Amari a little mini hoop in our basement. He started playing with it, and from day one, he loved basketball. He would dribble around the basement; I would even let him dribble in the living room as he grew older. He loved all sports, anything with a ball – baseball, football, but especially basketball. He played constantly.”
When Servais was asked to coach Preble’s third-grade boys’ team, his grandson – who was a first-grader in that district at the time – joined him. Allen quickly earned the position of starting point guard. “From then on Amari played two years up, until fifth grade – then they made him play at his own level. He was almost always the best player on the court,” says Servais.
Now a 6’6 standout, Allen is a freshman starting on Kaukauna’s varsity squad. He’s being touted as one of the finest prospects in Wisconsin’s loaded 2025 class and piquing interest from D1 schools around the U.S. “It’s a pleasure. It’s a lot of fun,” Schalow says of coaching Allen. “Amari’s a great talent. His skill level shines on the court.”
Evan Flood, who’s covered Wisconsin high school basketball since 2012, agrees. Between Allen’s size, athleticism, positional versatility, and eye-popping prowess on both offense and defense, Flood says, “You kind of have to pick your poison at this level with Amari.”
Allen is looking to join a group of select-few athletes from the Green Bay area who have gone on to play high-major Division 1 basketball. Fellow Kaukauna native Jordan McCabe (first West Virginia, now University of Nevada – Las Vegas) and first-round NBA draft pick Tyrese Haliburton from Oshkosh North (Iowa State) have paved the way.
Allen’s accomplishments are astounding for such a young player. Averaging 23.1 points per game, he leads the Galloping Ghosts in scoring and is third highest in the Fox Valley Association (FVA), one of the best conferences in the state. Just over two months into his freshman season, he’d already surpassed 500 points. Additionally, Allen plays for the most prestigious Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) club in the state, Wisconsin Playground – a program that boasts names like Kostas Antetokounmpo, Tyler Herro, Sam Dekker, and J.P. Tokoto on its recent alumni roster. He’s also competed in numerous elite tournaments and camps across the country, from Under Armour Nationals to CP3 Rising Stars.
But Allen isn’t content with his already impressive resumé. Instead, he continually raises the bar for himself and sets even loftier goals. “I want to win a state title, and Mr. Basketball senior year,” he says. “When I go play in college, we’ll hopefully win an NCAA championship.”
As for which college that will be, Allen isn’t sure. He doesn’t have a ‘dream school’ – he just wants to play with the team that fits him best. Right now, only one thing is for certain: this Georgetown offer is only the beginning. “It’s safe to say Amari is a top 50 prospect nationally,” says Flood. “I’d project him to be highly sought after and receive attention from blueblood programs and have a nice selection of schools to choose from.”
For Allen, the sky’s the limit. But he knows he wouldn’t be here today without everyone who’s helped him along the way. Friends. Teammates. Coaches. And, most importantly, his family. “I’m so thankful for them,” Allen says.
As his biggest supporters, Allen’s family members were just as emotional as he was when he received his big offer. “Amari hugged me for about three minutes. We both had tears in our eyes,” Tom remembers. “He had worked so hard for that moment, and we’d been with him all the way. We hoped it would come, but we never thought it would come so soon. It’s exciting to see that all his hard work is paying off.”
Allen’s mother, Amanda Servais, reacted much the same way as her father and son. “I was speechless. Emotions hit over me. All I could do was cry with Amari and give him a big hug,” she recalls fondly. “It’s a great feeling seeing Amari’s dreams start to come true. That was a priceless moment, and I’m so happy I was there to share it with him. I’m a proud mama!”
Sometime in the next few years, Amari Allen will decide where the next step in his basketball journey will occur – a choice many will be eagerly awaiting. For now, though, he’s just taking it all in. Enjoying the ride. And continuing to live by three simple words: “Keep working hard.”