Georgia Jones and Dominique Allen were inseparable for four years in Oklahoma. They’d like to remain team-mates for a little longer yet.
Ideally, for three more months, through a deep run into the Olympic Games with Great Britain.
It’s the start of one journey for both, shortly after the end of another. Last month, the pair said farewell to Tulsa and life at Oral Roberts University, where they had spent their collegiate careers sharing the highs and lows as two Limeys transplanted overseas.
Allen, from near Birmingham (above right), and Jones, raised in Manchester, already had much in common before they even arrived on campus. Both have basketball in the blood.
The Jones brothers, James and Calum, are both stalwarts of the BBL. While her father Jeff, will return to the league next season as coach, once again, of the Manchester Giants.
Allen, too, has childhood memories around the game. Her Dad Clive was an England international who was a tough-nosed forward for many years with the now defunct Birmingham Bullets.
Both men passed on everything they had learnt to their daughters.
“As soon as I got off the plane, he had me in the gym,” Allen laughs. “He’s been great. I talk to him all the time. He’s been my coach since I was 12 or 13 and he’s been a great support.”
“It’s the same for me,” Jones affirms. “My Dad is my coach. I’m probably a pain in the backside when he’s coaching me but I really appreciate what he’s done for me.”
Parted from friends and families, the duo formed their own support network in Tulsa, united as much by their language as common goals to excel internationally.
Before going to university, Jones spent two summers with the senior GB team as a child prodigy before injuries and selection issues took her out of the reckoning. Allen has yet to earn a senior cap but has come steadily through the system at Under-20 and Under-23 level. Both went to last year’s World University Games in China where Tom Maher was given a close-up look at their potential.
On a daily basis, Jones reveals, they pushed each other to make a case.
“We did a lot of workouts together out of season to be ready. Being away from England, you’re a bit out of the loop. You have to keep on top of each other and make sure we’re doing the right things to keep involved. We had training diaries to send every week so we kept on top of that.”
Adds Allen: “It’s been one of our main goals over the last four years, not only to get better at college but to work towards the Olympics.”
Their shared ambition is still alive. However, more cuts loom at GB camp in Surrey ahead of the team’s opening friendly in Croatia on May 28.
They may go forward in unison. One or both might fall by the wayside.
With an experienced frontcourt in situ, Allen’s odds seem longer. “I’m one of the youngest and the newest,” she reflects. “It’s a learning experience.”
For Jones, there are higher stakes at play, with room for a reliable point guard who can run Maher’s offense.
She is taking nothing as read.
“It’s just a great opportunity, that we’re even here,” she states. “And that we’re still in the squad. That’s what we’ve been working towards for the last few years. It would mean a great deal for us.”
Individually, or together still.
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