Duke Blue Devils: Allen’s Leadership Key for Upcoming Season

GREENVILLE, SC - MARCH 19: Grayson Allen
GREENVILLE, SC - MARCH 19: Grayson Allen /

As the Blue Devils’ lone senior, Grayson Allen embraces his captainship as Duke looks ahead for what hopes to be another ACC Championship season.

Duke has been a perennial powerhouse in college basketball ever since head coach Mike Krzyzewski assumed his position in 1980. This year looks to be no different with a fresh pool of talent for the Blue Devils. However, the team’s biggest asset, aside from its storied head coach, is its only senior on the roster.

Grayson Allen made waves in the Atlantic Coast Conference since his freshman year, which ended with the Jacksonville, Fla. native earning Final Four All-Tournament Team honors. His spark was magnified to outrageous proportions the following season which garnered him a spot on the All-America team. The most surprising part of his success, though, is the fact that he’s still on the team.

The current atmosphere of college basketball seems to revolve around the players who enroll in school for a year, then jump ship and declare for the NBA Draft (“one-and-dones”). Duke has been one of the poster childs for schools that cycle through such players with Jayson Tatum (Boston), Harry Giles (Sacramento), and Frank Jackson (New Orleans) as the most recent one-and-dones to leave Durham after just a year. Allen, on the other hand, never had such intentions.

“When I came into college, I figured I’d be here for four years,” Allen said. “As each year went by, that was still kind of in the back of my mind. I wanted to get my degree. It was always really important to my family, and so that’s one of the big things I wanted to do.”

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Last season, Allen became a polarizing figure outside of the confines of Cameron Indoor Stadium. The guard made headlines after repeated incidences of tripping opposing players, resulting in Krzyzewski stripping him of his captain status. He has since redeemed himself in the eyes of Coach K and will be the Devils’ captain to begin 2017-18.

“I had to earn it back,” Allen said. “It was showing Coach that I wanted to lead. The other part of it was gaining the trust from my teammates. Over the summer and during workouts, they trusted me to lead, and they had confidence in me.”

Despite being the face of this Duke team, Allen says he will focus on making everyone around him better. If the team meshes together well, then Allen’s performance will escalate alongside his teammates.

“We actually have to put it together, and it’s tough to do because when you’re a freshman,” Allen said. “All the guys on this team have to learn to play with each other, using each other’s talents and skills. It’s going to be really important, and a lot of that responsibility is on me to lead.”

Next: North Carolina Sports: The Weekend In Review

The Blue Devils enter the new campaign as the reigning ACC Tournament Champions. Duke’s quest to repeat will begin Friday, Nov. 10 at home against Elon.