Grayson Allen: From Tourney Darling to National Enemy

Although it was just two years ago, it seems like an eternity since Grayson Allen was the apple of the college basketball world’s eye. On the 2014-15 Blue Devils squad with big name stars Jahlil Okafor, Justice Winslow and Tyus Jones, Allen quietly took over the National Championship game against Wisconsin.

With Duke down 9 points in the second half due to Winslow and Okafor spending an extended amount of time on the bench with foul trouble, someone on the Blue Devil bench had to step up. In came Allen, who scored 8 straight for Duke to keep them in the contest. He finished with 16 points off the bench to be the second leading scorer for the champion Devils in the title game.

“We were kind of dead in the water. We were nine points down and Grayson just put us on his back,” Coach K said afterwards.

If only that were the legacy Allen would be leaving. Unfortunately, it is not. Here we are, almost two years removed from his title game heroics, and Allen could be considered the most hated player in college basketball. 

We’re not talking hatred like Christian Laetner felt. Allen has carved out a whole new face on the Mount Rushmore of hated Duke players. Allen likely won’t get a 30 for 30 for his actions. Laetner was a legend. Allen won’t be recalled as such.

His tripping incidents are seared into everyone’s memory. Or even if they aren’t, he’ll give you a new example it seems on a weekly basis. And if it isn’t the tripping,  it’s his tussles with opposing players. 

I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that opposing coaches use Allen’s propensity for anger and overreaction as a tool, much like the strategy rumored to be used to draw fouls on New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

Allen drew the ire of his own coaching staff after another tripping incident and earned an indefinite suspension around this past Christmas holiday. Pundits around the country criticized the suspension that lasted just one game over a two-week span due to the holidays.

The suspension obviously didn’t resonate with the 6’5 junior. He’s been caught tripping at least one more player in a game against Pitt in early February. He earned a foul on the play, though it appeared to be a possible accident this time. Regardless, Allen has lost the benefit of the doubt at this point.

Yet another incident regarding the talented, but maligned Blue Devil occurred in Wednesday’s contest against Clemson. After picking up his second foul early in the first half, Allen slammed the ball down out of bounds. His actions quickly earned him a technical foul. Zero points and 3 fouls before halftime. That takes talent.

Allen earned a seat on the bench for the remainder of the game, though Duke prevailed 79-72.

It’s sad to see such talent overshadowed by foul play. His stats have gone down across the board from last season. And though the Blue Devils don’t rely on him alone, without all of these incidents they could certainly be looking at a better record than where they currently sit at 24-8.

Duke will need clean play from Allen the remainder of the ACC Tournament and into the big dance in order to go further than the Sweet Sixteen they made it to last year.

No matter what the outcome of the ACC Tournament or the NCAA Championship tournament, it can be assumed Allen will remain the most hated player in the league, bar none. 

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