American hoopster gets second shot in Canada

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By Steve Petrick

Alfred McAllister needs just three words to explain why he left his native United States to dish out more than $4,000 in tuition fees to play for Ryerson.

“Love for basketball.”

American athletes rarely have to worry about such costs, since they often receive full athletic scholarships.

But McAllister, 23, of Baton Rouge, La., had to open his wallet to prolong his university basketball career after finishing his math degree at Lafayette College.

McAllister played his first two season at the Easton, Pa., school but sat out his final three to focus on classes.

Under American collegiate rules, his playing eligibility has run out.  When he heard CIAU rules permit an athlete to play a total of five years of university sports, regardless of whether they’re consecutive or not, his fundraising campaign started.

“I’m taking loans if you’d like to help out,” he said with a laugh.

McAllister will soon know a lot about borrowing and lending money, since he’s studying business at Ryerson.

“This gave me the perfect opportunity,” McAllister said.  “I can have fun playing basketball and I can work on my business degree.  I’m always trying to learn.  I always need to feed my brain.”

For Rams head coach Terry Haggerty, having a former NCAA player on his roster is naturally an asset.  But more important to Haggerty is the fact that McAllister is a good student.  What makes the basketball team successful, Haggerty says, is “good students, good players and good people.”

McAllister indicated he’s not playing for his own ego, saying he’ll do anything to help the Rams become national champions, whether it means scoring two or 30 points a game.

He also doesn’t mind adapting to a new campus, culture and style of basketball.

“A lot of people don’t get the opportunity to go to a school in another country,” McAllister said.  “It’s an experience and experience builds wisdom.  I’m thankful to have it.  It’s like a blessing.”

—   With files from Dave Smith

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