We* love Grayson Allen
Pictured above is my little sister and I at the Wake Forest game this past season, mentioned a few posts ago. Obviously her shirt states "I love Grayson Allen", and that is a true statement for both of us (hints the title of this post). If you're a Duke fan then you have most likely heard about the return of Grayson earlier this week. I couldn't be more excited to see G play for one more year in his Duke jersey, hopefully along side current teammate (and major Duke player crush), Frank Jackson. Grayson definitely has had some memorable moments in his last three years at Duke, some good and bad. As appreciation for his return I would like to reflect on some of the good times we had as fans watching him from the stands.
Grayson has played 71 games in his Duke uniform, 35 of them making a start. It was the 2014-15 season when Grayson became part of Duke basketball as a freshman. Along side teammates, Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones, and Justise Winslow (one of my fav past Duke players). While those three started from day one, Grayson did not. Although he did get early playing time that year, he saw his court time start to diminish. According to my source, "Tales from the Duke Blue Devil Locker Room", Grayson could have written off his season, but chose to keep working harder at his goals instead. In an interview Allen stated, "I had a talk with Coach K early in the year, I saw where he had this really deep lineup and there might not be a lot of minutes for me. He told me not to put everything off to next year. My time is now. I was just working hard and staying in shape even when I wasn't playing big minutes just in case there was a time I would have to play extended minutes. As the season went on, I got more confidence in my role, where I was okay playing three minutes, or I was okay playing twenty minutes. I was ready for either one." Allen then when on to score a career high of 27 points in a big win over Wake Forest and on to the ACC tourney, defeating NC State with the help of G scoring 11 points. He went into the 2015 NCAA tourney averaging only 4 points per game, but his confidence was getting stronger each game, and Coach K recognized the energy and intensity Allen could bring into a game. Leading up to the championship game, Allen had helped bring the team up 50-31 against Michigan State in the final four, with a tomahawk dunk after he rebounded his own missed shot early into the second half of this game. That was just a teaser for the winning championship game, which was held a couple nights later. I remember these moments like they were just yesterday. Grayson scored 16 points off the bench and made some intense plays to help Duke get back on top from 9 points down. "We were kind of in dead water. We were nine points down and Grayson just put us on his back." Coach K stated in a post-game interview. It was in those moments that he had just realized they won the 2015 NCAA title, with the help of one of the most loved (and hated by every opposing team), Duke freshman, Grayson Allen.
Grayson's sophomore year he was known for being one of, if not the best, player on the team. We all came to love him more and more as the season went on. He scored 779 points throughout the season and and became ranked Duke's seventh on the single-season scoring list and also beat the record for second-highest points scored by a sophomore in history. He also made 211 free throws to tie for sixth on Duke's single-season chart. Allen picked up the All-American honor as a sophomore, he was one of 10 students athletes to receive this award. On March 3rd 2016, Allen was named to the All-American academic team for the second consecutive season. He is the sixth Duke student athlete to earn on court All-American honors and Academic All-America recognition, in the same season. He was also named first team All-ACC selection (by the ACSMA), giving Duke a first team, all league member for the 19th time in the last 20 seasons. He was the first player to return to Duke after earning All-America honors in the previous season, since J.J. Redick and Sheldon Williams in 2005-06 (according to goduke.com). Those are just to name a few accomplishments of the sophomore career of Allen.
His junior year he repeated some of the same accomplishments. Such as his third All-ACC Academic Team honor, making him the ninth Duke player to earn that award at least three times. He was apart of the history making team, winning four games in four days to snag the 2017 ACC championship title (Duke's 20th), also named to the All-ACC tournament second team as a junior. He was just 68 points shy of becoming Duke's 65th ranked 1,000 point scorer (which I think he will easily reach this year). Grayson has definitely made some memorable moments in the past three seasons at Duke, and he has grown to become one of my favorite players.
Even though he is hated by many, I like the fact that he keeps his focus on what he loves most and continues to improve his skill each season. As we watched his junior season come to and end, most of us fans were preparing ourselves for a possible chance that he may be leaving. I had a gut feeling that he would be staying but, there were still thoughts about "what will our team be like without him?" As many of you saw, he announced just the other day to the sports world that he will be returning for his senior year at Duke. Allen stated "Gonna miss these guys at Duke next year, (talking about previous teammates Amile Jefferson, and Matt Jones) but we'll have a nice squad though" according to Duke Men's Basketball twitter page. In the words of Allen, "The last few weeks have provided the opportunity for a lot of reflection and prayer. I'm a firm believer that when something feels right, you go with it. The chance to play with next year's team just felt right. I'm completely focused on helping Coach K and our staff lead this team to a special season. I love being a Duke student, and continuing to be a part of the university culture is something I don't take for granted." I can't wait to see what Grayson brings to Duke for his last season. It will definitely be bittersweet. Who knows, I might even get the chance to meet him, snag a picture or autograph (that would be a dream). Only about six more months until the season starts (but who's counting, right?).