Will Iverson Allen be the answer in Bucs' OF? Maybe after a little practice

January 19th, 2024

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- The Pirates signed 16 players from their international class of 2024 at their Dominican Academy on Friday. And they hope one of the signings can be “The Answer” in their outfield years down the road. No, not Allen Iverson, but Iverson Allen -- and yes, there is a history of basketball in his family.

Allen, an outfielder from Panama, is the son of a Panamanian basketball player.

"I was named Iverson Allen because my dad played professional basketball in Panama," Allen said via interpreter Junior Vizcaino, the Bucs' director of international scouting. "His favorite point guard was Allen Iverson, so it just happened to be that it matched. It was a perfect fit."

Making the connection even more striking: The 16-year-old Iverson Allen is listed at 6 feet tall and 160 pounds, while Allen Iverson was listed at 6 feet tall and 165 pounds at the end of his career. But Allen admits he's not much of a basketball player.

Allen might have the edge over Iverson on defense, at least. The center fielder is seen as having a high ceiling, especially with his glove, which was apparent in videos shown during his signing ceremony of him diving to snag base hits from opponents.

Allen knows that fans in America will recognize his name for the former NBA MVP as much as himself. Even in Panama, he said he's "always, always, always" reminded by others of his unique name. But he hopes to make a name for himself with a style of play he called "explosive" and "100% all in."

Before he can reach Pittsburgh, though, he’ll need a lot of batting practice.

Yes. We’re talking about practice.