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Allen steps down as Central boys basketball coach

David Allen won't be a head boys basketball coach for the 2013-14 season, he will just be a dad.

The longtime local coach stepped down Thursday as head of the Central Gwinnett boys program, ending a successful run that saw his teams reach the state tournament six of the past seven seasons. His decision was rooted in family, particularly his daughter Jessica, a sophomore basketball player at George Walton Academy.

"The main thing is my daughter is a basketball player at George Walton and I only got to see five or six of her games this year," Allen said. "She'll be a junior next season and I want to watch her play. You don't get these years back. I'm going to take this year off (from coaching), take a step back and enjoy watching her play."

Allen was Central's head boys coach for nine seasons, the best coming in 2009-10 when his team reached the Class AAAAA state semifinals at the Arena at Gwinnett Center. The Black Knights were 29-3 that season, setting a school record for wins.

Prior to taking the Central job, Allen was the head boys coach at Loganville for five seasons. He was previously an assistant under Eddie Martin at Brookwood and at Berkmar, his alma mater.

While he plans a hiatus for the moment, he expects a return to coaching in the future.

"It was a very tough decision from a coaching standpoint," Allen said. "I really still have a passion for basketball. I love teaching and I love coaching. I'm not done (coaching) in my eyes."

Allen's success at Central came despite repeatedly losing top players who transferred to other schools, including N.C. State standout Richard Howell (who transferred from Central to Wheeler) and UCLA freshman sensation Jordan Adams (to Oak Hill Academy, Va.). Players like Devonta White (Centennial), Simeon Dennis (South Gwinnett) and Darius Joell (Collins Hill) also transferred out in recent seasons.

Those exits would have crippled many programs, but Central kept winning despite the transfers.

"We had some adversity, no doubt," Allen said. "Kids moving out, that was just one of the things we dealt with. (Former player) Jerry Coleman passing away two years ago, that was tough. The kids we had at Central worked hard and they're excellent kids. You can't ask for more than kids who work hard for you."

The Black Knights will return a strong core for Allen's replacement, including rising star Shaun Jones and a strong sophomore class.

"We just appreciate what (Allen's) done for the school and for the program," Central athletic director Brian DeBerry said. "The Final Four run a few years ago really meant a lot to our community. We'll miss him. He's considered one of the best X and O coaches around."