White Hall’s Allen finds home in ACC

WHITE HALL — Senior JaeLisa Allen chose to continue her basketball career by signing with the University of Virginia Wednesday afternoon inside the library at White Hall High School.

“I feel like I’m making my parents and family proud,” Allen said. “… Keeping fighting and keep working hard to get better and go farther.”

Allen, a McDonald’s All-American nominee, averaged 12 points, eight rebounds and three blocks for White Hall this season.

White Hall lost 68-57 to Jacksonville in the first round of the 5A State tournament.

“It has been great,” Allen said of her time at White Hall. “Coach (Mike) Upshaw has been a great coach and coach (Steven) Powell has been a great assistant coach.

“They push us every day.”

Powell has been with White Hall for four years and also serves as head coach of the volleyball team, on which Allen also plays.

“It’s probably one of the biggest signings ever in White Hall history with girls basketball,” Powell said.

“When I got here, (Allen) was a ninth-grader so I’ve watched her grow up and improve her game,” Powell said. “… I’ve seen her mature as a young lady.

“She deserves what she gets.”

Allen said she hopes her commitment to Virginia will help more student-athletes at White Hall and other Southeast Arkansas schools receive interest from other major Division I programs.

“Hopefully, they start recruiting down here more,” Allen said.

Virginia finished this past season at 14-17 overall and 6-10 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Lady Cavaliers were eliminated in the second round of the ACC tournament.

“It is pretty impressive to sign with an ACC school,” Powell said. “To play against teams like Duke and North Carolina. It is a big basketball conference.

“We are just proud of her.”

Allen said she also received interest from Arkansas-Pine Bluff, North Texas, Oral Roberts, Grambling State and Memphis.