HOUSTON -- Harvard graduate. Decorated college basketball player. A first-round draft pick.
There’s a lot to love about the resume of Allison Feaster, director of player development and personal growth for the Boston Celtics.
As impressive as her accomplishments to date may be, Feaster will be the first to tell you that she’s not done.
Not. Even. Close.
And it is that perpetual drive to succeed that has fueled her success that these days that finds her blazing a trail which has led to her being the first Black woman to hold a position within the Celtics’ front office.
“Not to sound like it’s a fairy tale, but it has been everything I could have hoped for,” Feaster told NBC Sports Boston. “It has exceeded my expectations; working alongside a group of men and women, to try and get this team to the next level.”
Playing a vital role in a team’s ascension has been part of the Feaster profile dating back to when she was a star in South Carolina on the high school basketball team…in the seventh grade.
She would finish her prep career in South Carolina as a state champion along with being the state’s all-time leading scorer.
And once at Harvard, Feaster would string together four years of dominance as a player (she was named Ivy League Freshman of the Year and later Player of the Year three times), which included the first-ever NCAA Tournament upset by a then-No. 16 seed Harvard team against No. 1 seed Stanford.
Her focus throughout a basketball journey that has taken her all over the world was to steadily gain skills, improve her overall craft and consistently be the best version of herself, which she readily admits is a lot easier said than done.
But those experiences, coupled with her post-playing career in the NBA’s league office, helped prepare her for being ready to handle a random, out-of-the-blue phone call last year from a Boston area code.
Having lots of friends from her college days still in the area, she thought it might have been one of them.
It was Danny Ainge, the Celtics president of basketball operations. He was calling to gauge her interest in the job that Feaster would eventually agree to accept.
“Sometimes when those random calls come out of the blue you just have to take them,” Feaster said. “I was actually interviewing with another team and Danny called me.”
In addition to having played at Harvard, Feaster was familiar with the Celtics front office through a program for former NBA and WNBA players.
“There was a program created for former players to help transition off the court, explore the league office operations as well as team operations of the business of basketball,” Feaster said. “I had the fortune, the great fortune to trade with one of my colleagues. I had Atlanta and she had Boston. Because of my ties in the Boston community, I asked her to switch me. She did and I met Danny, Mike [Zarren] Brad [Stevens], Rich Gotham through that program.”
That familiarity made the decision to accept the Celtics’ job offer a no-brainer for Feaster.
“It would have been an amazing opportunity to join an organization as storied as the Celtics; and not just because of the rich history but because of the people,” Feaster said. “But leadership in Danny, Mike, Brad, Rich. I was just really impressed. They were very helpful in my early journey.”
A journey that continues on, and one that has allowed her to make an indelible impression with the current players, from All-Stars to pro basketball newbies.
“We all have so much respect for Allison,” Kemba Walker told NBC Sports Boston. She just genuinely cares about us. Basketball season can be really difficult for some people, some of the young players trying to adjust. She’s there for us; whatever we need, ask for, she tries her best to get it done for us. We definitely appreciate her and love having her around.”
Celtics rookie Romeo Langford, the youngest member of the team at 20, admits he talks with Feaster often about an array of issues that as a rookie, are totally foreign to him.
She can connect with them on basketball-related matters having played professionally for more than a decade.
But she also can assist in helping them some semblance of balance off the court as well, suggesting classes they can take or other activities that they can involve themselves with in the community.
“Having her around is really important; it helps the transition,” Langford told NBC Sports Boston. “How to handle difficult situations. We [rookies] don’t know too much. Coming into the league, what to expect or what to do or where to turn. She’s that person who is there, for that, to make the transition a lot smoother.”
Walker added, "It means a lot. To have an African-American female in that position, that's a big time. It gives young, Black girls hope in this business, in this league, period. It’s hard to get that position. But she’s super-intelligent, she played, went to Harvard, has so many connections... She carries herself super-well. It’s a blessing to have her around.”
While Feaster is well aware of the ground-breaking nature of her being with the Celtics, it hasn’t been an issue that she has spent a lot of time thinking about.
“It’s something I don’t focus on,” she said. “The beauty of this position and this organization and the way that Kara [Lawson, Celtics assistant coach] and I have been welcomed, it’s been just like any other employee I imagine. I don’t feel like ‘the other’ as I felt abroad as the only American or the only English speaker. I don’t feel like ‘the other’ as maybe I felt as being the only African-American on my Harvard team.”
While Feaster doesn't put much thought into the pioneering dynamic of her position, she does take her position as a role model very seriously.
“That to me, as a professional athlete, that’s always been the beauty of the unique platform we have.” Feaster said. “I'm here to lend a hand, help young people aspire to be where we are. It’s an honor to represent them in this space.”