Alone at the top: Central's Wallen just keeps scoring

Alone at the top: Central's Wallen just keeps scoring

CHAMPAIGN — First, Champaign Central senior Doug Wallen passed Centennial great Roger McClendon, Champaign-Urbana’s only boys’ McDonald’s All-American, on the all-time Champaign-Urbana scoring list. That only took a few games during his senior year.

Then, he surpassed former Illinois and Urbana player Ken Ferdinand and Minnesota and Champaign High great Clyde Turner.

Finally, Wallen passed Rayvonte Rice, a player he remembered following throughout Centennial’s state championship team, with a 23-point performance to become Champaign-Urbana’s all-time leading scorer.

And Wallen had no idea, at least until the next morning.

“I found out the next morning on Twitter, and some of my coaches congratulated me, and I wasn’t sure what it was for,” said Wallen, who has 1,870 career points heading into the playoffs. “Some of those names are just great players.”

Wallen isn’t one to revel in his individual accolades, and that shows on the court.

He’s more likely to lay a ball up rather than dunk and prone to running straight down the court after a basket rather than pounding his chest. Aside from an early-season team dunk contest in which he wowed the crowd with a one-handed 360 finish, Wallen says he’s “more of a two-hand flush kind of guy.”

“I think a lot of my moves are basic, but I use them to the best of my ability,” Wallen said. “I don’t get too high or low in games. I stay pretty level-headed, which has helped throughout my career. My teammates have always gotten me open and stuff like that. I think I run the ball pretty well in transition a lot of times, so if you get lost behind the defense, you’ll find a lot of openings.”

And that’s part of the secret to his scoring success throughout his high school career, which started at St. Thomas More and continued after he transferred to Central this season. He’s not flashy, but he’s effective. During his last two years at St. Thomas More, he shot 53.2 percent and 55.1 percent.

“He shoots a really high percentage,” coach Jeff Finke said. “He’s really efficient. Because he’s a threat to shoot from three or in the midrange, he’s a tough guard. When teams have to focus on Tim (Finke) or if they’re trying to shut Bailey (Dee’s) penetration down or whatever, Doug’s there to score, and he’s a good rebounder and he can finish off the offensive glass, too.”

Of course, Wallen has taken on a different role at Champaign Central than the one he took on as the Sabers’ go-to scorer.

“Whereas he was ‘the guy’ at least the last couple of years at STM, we have several of them,” Jeff Finke said. “So he’s come in and embraced that and become a lot better defender and continued to be a consistent rebounder and just a great teammate.”

The fact that his scoring average is down to 14.3 points per game at his new school is no worry to Wallen, who may be the all-time leading scorer in Champaign-Urbana boys’ basketball history, but isn’t the leading career scorer in his own household. His sister, Lexi, scored 2,209 points at St. Thomas More and is the all-time Champaign-Urbana leading scorer.

Wallen, though, isn’t worried about individual scoring numbers. He’s more concerned with matching the state championship his sister won with St. Thomas More in 2014.

“I remember (seeing her accept her state championship medal and) envisioning myself that I wanted to be on that stage,” Wallen said. “(The Champaign-Urbana scoring lead is) a small accolade (compared to) what our team hopefully has in store in March. You can’t get too high about it, but it’s something that I’ve worked hard for.”