Last year, many thought Grayson Allen would bolt for the NBA after an All-American season that had him as a late first-rounder in many mock drafts.
But Allen chose to return to Durham for one more year, and now, he will return for his final year, the team announced Tuesday afternoon.
Allen, who is on track to be within a few credits of earning his degree in May, endured an up-and-down junior season in which he battled various injuries and constant hatred from opposing fans. After scoring a team-high 21.6 points per game as a sophomore, the 6-foot-5 guard entered the year as the preseason ACC Player of the Year, but saw his shooting numbers drop across the board. He finished third on the team with 14.5 points per contest.
The former second-team All-American will be expected to lead Duke as the only upperclassman who has seen meaningful action, joining current freshman Frank Jackson and incoming five-star guard Gary Trent Jr. to give the Blue Devils another dynamic backcourt.
“The last few weeks have provided the opportunity for a lot of reflection and prayer,” Allen said in a release. “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 part of the university culture is something I don’t take for granted.”
Allen dealt with nagging turf toe, ankle and hamstring injuries throughout the season, which hindered his ability to be an aggressive slasher driving to the hoop on offense.
Instead, with teammates Luke Kennard and Jayson Tatum stepping up as the primary scoring options, Allen transitioned to more of a supporting role, attempting to play point guard for a Blue Devil team that lacked a true floor general and getting the majority of his shots from behind the 3-point line, where he shot 36.5 percent on the year.
After a pair of tripping incidents last season put him in the national spotlight, Allen put himself at the center of controversy once again when he tripped Elon's Steven Santa Ana Dec. 21. The Jacksonville, Fla., native was stripped of his captaincy for the incident and his ensuing reaction on the sidelines, and Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski suspended Allen for the team's ACC opener against Virginia Tech.
Allen finally got healthy toward the end of the season, helping the Blue Devils capture the ACC tournament championship in historic fashion and sparking Duke in both of its NCAA tournament games. But his inconsistency gives him plenty to prove moving forward.