Duke guard Grayson Allen will return for his junior year, the school announced Wednesday. This makes the Blue Devils the strong favorite to ranked No. 1 to start the 2016-17 season.
“I talked with my parents and prayed about this decision, and I had the feeling that it was right,” Allen said in a statement released by the school. “I love Duke and I’ve made relationships with my teammates that will last forever. Coming back next season to play with them is important to me. Earning a Duke degree has always been a dream of mine, so I’ll also be working to get closer to that goal.”
A third-team AP all-American, Allen led Duke and ranked fifth among major-conference players with an average of 21.6 points per game. His 17.2-point scoring improvement from his freshman year set a new ACC record for year-to-year scoring increase. Allen was never held to fewer than 15 points in 20 ACC games this season (18 regular season and two in the ACC tournament). Allen also led Duke with 3.5 assists per game, becoming just the ninth Blue Devil to lead the team in both scoring and assists.
On the court, Grayson is a warrior, as I’ve said many times. He has untapped potential, both on and off the basketball court. I have loved coaching Grayson and I’m going to love coaching him next season.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski statement on Grayson Allen
“On the court, Grayson is a warrior, as I’ve said many times,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement. “He has untapped potential, both on and off the basketball court. I have loved coaching Grayson and I’m going to love coaching him next season.”
The Blue Devils will fix all of their weak spots from last season: point guard play, post play and depth, and they also have a replacement for Brandon Ingram in incoming five-star wing Jayson Tatum. Incoming five-star Frank Jackson is the favorite to handle the point guard position next year, and incoming five-star forward Harry Giles and redshirt senior Amile Jefferson will be the main players in the post.
Duke is looking at a starting lineup of Jackson, Allen, Tatum, Giles and Jefferson – with Matt Jones, Luke Kennard, Derryck Thornton, all of whom started at least 11 games last year, coming off the bench. The Blue Devils’ bench is, at this point, also slated to include rising redshirt junior Sean Obi, sophomores Chase Jeter and Antonio Vrankovic, redshirt freshman Justin Robinson and freshmen Javin DeLaurier and Jack White.
Robinson came to campus as a preferred walk-on but was given a scholarship last year when an extra one was available. It’s assumed that Robinson will be a walk-on next year – but that still leaves Duke with an NCAA maximum 13 scholarship players. The Blue Devils are still pursuing five-star center Marques Bolden for the incoming class.