Every few years, there is one guy at Duke that every person in the college basketball community can point their finger at. They will say things like “I hate that guy” or “that fella’ is a dirty player”. You may be saying, “Jack, I bet you’re a Duke hater, so you agree with this”. I actually don’t, I am a fan of the guy I am writing about today. So yes, label me a Grayson Allen fan.
To me, Grayson Allen is the epitome of the Duke Blue Devils. He is an emotional, killer basketball player, who certainly pushes the envelope night after night. Personally, he is the college basketball version of Brad Marchand. A terrific player, who cannot help but be controversial and slightly dirty from time to time, but man can the kid play. Allen has been suspended a number of times for tripping, and rightfully so, but it just proves the point that some of the best are dirty.
Allen’s numbers are down from last season. He’s averaging 15 a night instead of 21 he had in his sophomore year. Rightfully so, when you have talented guys like Luke Kennard and Jayson Tatum in the lineup right alongside you. Allen proved his worth the other night against North Carolina. Allen dropped 25 points, 7 of 12 from 3 point range, and then fouled out. A pretty good night for the junior, and let me say this, I watched that entire game and Allen hit a handful of big 3’s. The kid has the clutch gene.
Allen is the new Christian Laettner. He is probably nowhere close to as hated as Laettner, but he is damn close. He joins the long line of hated Dukies like JJ Reddick, Shane Battier, Kyle Singler, Grant Hill, the list goes on. But for this decade, I have to say he may be the most hated Blue Devil to date. He impresses me, and it all goes back to the National Title performance. The kid took the game into his hands, brought Duke back, and did the job right.
Now, Allen will probably be back for his senior year. But that torch of the hated Dukie could be passed by years end. Luke Kennard is the one waiting off to the side. Kennard is nowhere near as controversial, but this kid can play. Kennard is averaging 20 a night and has played in every game for the Blue Devils this season. He has a killer grin that the folks over on Chapel Hill will hate when Allen is gone. Kennard, I will say it, may even be better than Allen. We just don’t know that yet.
Duke is a favorite heading into the tournament. If they escape an early upset, they should be a force to be wrecking with. With public enemy number 1 in Allen leading the way and Kennard by his side, Coach K’s team may be unstoppable.
Until next week, stay handsome my friends.