Grandville native ends career as MSU star

Courtesy Photo / Google Images

Courtesy Photo / Google Images

Cody Eding

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For four seasons, her 6-foot-9-inch frame intimidated opponents, dominated the Big Ten conference and shattered Michigan State University and NCAA women’s basketball records.

Yet, had things been a little different, Allyssa DeHaan might have been at Grand Valley State University in Laker blue instead of Spartan green, dominating the GLIAC instead of the Big Ten.

DeHaan starred at Michigan State, anchoring the middle of the floor as the starting center in all but eight games of her career. But her ties to GVSU nearly landed her in Allendale instead of East Lansing.

She is an area native as she attended Grandville High School. Her father, Capt. Brandon DeHaan, is the assistant director of the GVSU Department of Public Safety and has worked there since 1982.

Between friends, family and closeness to campus, the elder DeHaan said his daughter’s college choice was difficult.

“She truly struggled with that (decision) for a long, long period of time,” he said. “The feeling that this campus provides is something she was looking for, and the quality of life was here.”

Michigan State ultimately won over Allyssa, who was honored with the Michigan Miss Basketball award in 2005 after averaging 24 points, nine blocks and nine rebounds during her senior season at Grandville.

Brandon said the choice hinged on not only the level of Division I competition but also on his daughter’s desire to enroll at Michigan State’s medical school. Allyssa carried a 3.85 GPA in high school.

GVSU women’s basketball coach Janel Burgess was the first to scout Allyssa for Michigan State when she served as the associate head coach for the Spartans. Burgess said Allyssa’s emphasis on academics, family and basketball is what attracted Michigan State to her.

“I think it was just she was just the total package,” Burgess said.

Allyssa’s choice paid off big for both her and the Spartans.

She finished her career with 1,649 points and 919 rebounds, good for fourth all-time in both categories at Michigan State. Allyssa momentarily held the NCAA all-time record for blocks last season, and she finished her career second all-time with 503 total. She appeared in 136 games within four seasons, which is a Michigan State record.

“She matured on the court as a leader and as a basketball player,” Burgess said. “People just continued to double-team and to handle that for four years, that’s a tough job.”

Some expected Allyssa to be picked in Thursday’s WNBA draft, but she was not one of the 36 players selected.

On Friday, Allyssa released a statement saying a herniated disk in her back will postpone pursuing a professional basketball career. She will instead return to school six credits shy of completing her pre-med degree.

“When she completes her degree this December, we’ll sit down and discuss what options are available,” Brandon DeHaan said. “Should Allyssa want to return to professional basketball, she said it would most likely be in Europe, Asia or Australia and not the WNBA.”

Allyssa’s hands, which rudely rejected so many shots in her career, will for now focus on learning to help others in her goal of becoming a doctor. But, her father said he would not be surprised if she wanted to return to basketball in the near future.

“She’s had an opportunity to play basketball for the last eight years — high school and college,” he said. “It’s difficult to turn that off.”

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