Allen Academy’s Danny Pippen and Jason Williams are “Detroit’s Best Kept Secret”

14 Oct

IMG_0924-1Charter schools are abundant in Michigan, and particularly in the City of Detroit.    A charter school is an independently run public school given flexibility in its operations, in return accountability for performance. The “charter” is the contract detailing the school’s mission, programs, students served, performance goals, and methods of assessment.

Detroit Allen Academy is one of many charter schools located in Detroit.  The schools sits at the corner of Quincey and Blaine Street on the city’s east side.  A K-12 school, the Wildcats compete in Class C for athletics with an enrollment just barely over 250 in the high school.

Craig Covington Junior is entering his second season as the head coach at Allen Academy.   After coaching for 20+ years out of state, Coach Covington inherited a 13-8 squad, and upped their win total total nine games to 22, as well as capturing a district championship, and a spot in a regional final.

Finding talent in Detroit can be difficult.  Established basketball programs like Pershing, Cass Tech, and Renaissance routinely receive the cities coveted talent pool, leaving it hard for Allen Academy to form an identity athletically.  However, Allen is unique because they are K-12, and start basketball in the elementary school.

“Any time you are the small fish in the big pond,” Covington notes, “it is going to be difficult.  But at Allen Academy a K-12 school with basketball starting with 3rd grade, it’s kind of fun watching your players develop through the elementary and middle school years.”

dannyThen the hard part comes, convincing the athletes to stay for high school.  Family is just as much a part of the Wildcat program as any drill, or offensive play they run.  Covington learned how to develop relationships with his players by watching his father, Craig Covington Senior, who is now the head man at Detroit’s Marygrove College, growing up.  And while Covington values his relationships with all players on his team, he has built a true bond with juniors Danny Pippen, and Jason Williams.

Pippen and Williams have known each other well before high school started, they met one another at a neighborhood Boys and Girls Club.  Jason said he came to Allen Academy to play with his older cousin, Pakiya Ellis, now at Ferris State, while Danny came for the experience of a smaller school with the opportunity to play right away.  After their freshman seasons, Coach Covington was hired.  Danny decided to stay, but it took some consideration on Jason’s part not to transfer.  Coach and player relationships, especially in the early stages, are going to be difficult, full of misunderstandings.  Relationships grow and Danny, Jason, and Coach Covington, have all genuinely developed a relationship that extends deeper than basketball.

“In this year,” Covington says, “I believe I have become very close with both Danny and Jason.  Not just as a player/coach but as a young man/older man.  I believe they understand that there isn’t much I wouldn’t do for them or any other player in the program for them to become successful.”

The relationship can be seen in the results on the court.  At 5’10” Jason has developed into an elite scoring option as a combo guard with college interest, while Danny has already received collegiate offers.  At 6’7″ Pippen streches the floor with his perimeter skills, and is a dangerous weapon when he combines an inside presence with three-point range.    Danny and Jason could easily be complaisant given their basketball gifts, however both acknowledge Coach Covington’s commitment to strive beyond average, but to be excellent, and to appreciate the mentality of hard work.

“Coach Covington has pushed me to limits I have never been pushed to before,” Danny notes.  While Jason added he has improved on defense, and becoming vocal leader for the team.

Covington speaks highly of his players athletic skills, but even higher does he speaks of his players off the court characteristics.  He called Danny and Jason “Detroit’s Best Kept Secret” because he admires how they carry themselves as young men within the school, classroom, community, and on the team.  Class C schools draw minimal interests from the media, college coaches, and hoop fans.  Danny and Jason embrace the title their coach has given them, it only gives the duo a greater amount of motivation to compete in Michigan’s most populated city as the proverbial “underdog.”

“I think it means we are the best many people don’t know about,” Jason chimed in, “and it’s time for us to put Allen Academy on in Detroit, as well as the State of Michigan basketball scene.”

Gone from a year ago is Pakiya Ellis, a guard who scored over 1,000 point in his high school career, and later went onto commit to Ferris State.  Allen Academy is among the pre-season favorites to capture Class C this season.  Danny and Jason will be counted upon heavily if the Wildcats are going to march to the Breslin Center this Winter.  Chemistry goes a long way in developing a winning basketball team, and despite the loss of a leader Ellis was, Pippen and Williams are confident the bond they have built with each other, and Coach Covington, separates them from any opposition they will face both on the hardwood this season, and in the endeavors life has to offer them.

“We have great chemistry…,” Danny added, “even though sometimes we (Jason and Coach Covington) don’t see eye to eye, but we both have a passion to win. We understand how each other plays and we will be able to rely on one another during the rough times because we have been together so long.”







2 Responses to “Allen Academy’s Danny Pippen and Jason Williams are “Detroit’s Best Kept Secret””

  1. Delrico Ingram October 16, 2014 at 6:40 pm #



  1. East Michigan’s 20 Duos To Watch This Season | The Prep Ball Report - November 8, 2014

    […] and Danny Pippen: Juniors Williams and Pippen are referred to as their head coach as “Detroit’s Best Kept Secret.” Allen Academy is a Class C charter school on Detroit’s Eastside with an enrollment of […]

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