Grayson Allen experienced highs and lows in his four years as a basketball player at Duke.
He was part of the Blue Devils' 2015 national title team as a freshman, coming off the bench to score 16 points in the 68-63 win over Wisconsin. But for him, nothing can top graduating from Duke with a degree in psychology.
Allen, who was the lone senior on this past season's Duke team, graduated on Sunday, and the university released a video of the 6-5, 205-pound guard reflecting on his four years in Durham, pointing out how important it was for him to earn his college degree.
“Getting a degree from Duke University is an amazing accomplishment for me,” Allen said in the short video. “I really loved all my time at this university and so I hope it’s seen how much I appreciate Duke. Not only playing basketball for Duke, but being a student at Duke, and I really am thankful for my time here.”
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The video also featured comments from Allen’s mom, Sherry, and coach Mike Krzyzewski.
“He came here as a really good youngster, he’s going to leave here a really good man, and an outstanding player, and he’s been a great student,” Krzyzewski said. “Not a good student, he’s been a great student.”
After coming off the bench as a freshman, Allen started his final three years at Duke. But with the bigger spotlight came more scrutiny. Allen was labeled a dirty player after a pair of incidents his sophomore year when it appeared he intentionally tripped opponents during ACC games against Louisville and Florida State.
It got worse his junior year. During a nationally televised game against Elon in Greensboro, Allen was hit with a technical for sticking his leg out and tripping Steven Santa Ana. The trip drew him a one-game suspension from Krzyzewski, who also stripped Allen of his captaincy.
Because of those moments, Allen was scrutinized his senior season. In January, Allen, after getting hit with the elbow of Virginia's Kyle Guy, Allen sat on the court and swatted away Guy's hand as he tried to help up Allen. In the 2018 ACC tournament he was called for a flagrant foul when he hip checked UNC freshman Garrison Brooks. Despite falling in the tournament to the Tar Heels, Allen led the Blue Devils to the Elite Eight, where they lost to Kansas, 85-81.
Allen turned down chances to enter the NBA draft each off season he was in Durham, deciding to return to pursue the degree he always wanted.
“We can’t put a value on that degree,” Sherry Allen said in the video.
Allen said education was always the top priority for him, even after he developed into a talented basketball player.
“From the time I was young, my grandmother was an English teacher in Jacksonville (Fla.) and she always taught school first, school first,” Allen said. “Then when I started to love basketball and become good at it, it was still school first, school first. I know she would be extremely happy to see me stay four years and get this degree and I know my parents are extremely happy to see what I’ve been able to accomplish, not only on the court but in the classroom as well and finishing up.”