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The most polarizing player in college basketball will be back for one more year.
Duke announced on Tuesday that guard Grayson Allen has decided to bypass the NBA draft and return for his senior season.
“I’m a firm believer that when something feels right, you go with it,” Allen said in a statement. 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’s return gives him a chance to undo some of the damage he did to his draft stock with a disappointing junior campaign marred by a rash of injuries and yet another tripping incident. In late December, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski suspended Allen for one game and stripped him of his captaincy after he stuck out his right leg and swept the left leg of Elon’s Steven Santa out from under him.
The third tripping incident in less than a year vaulted Allen back into the national media’s crosshairs, but it isn’t the primary reason the combo guard is no longer a projected first-round pick as he was after his brilliant sophomore season.
Nagging turf toe, ankle and hamstring injuries hampered Allen’s aggressiveness attacking the rim and the stress of constant questions about the tripping incidents also took a toll. His scoring average sank from 21.6 to 14.5, his shooting plummeted to 39.5 percent and he ultimately took a back seat to Luke Kennard and Jayson Tatum in Duke’s perimeter pecking order.
With Kennard, Tatum and several other standouts all leaving Duke, Allen should share the role of go-to threat with fellow guard Frank Jackson. Throw in the return of former McDonald’s All-American center Marques Bolden and the arrival of another decorated freshman class, and the Blue Devils should once again begin next season in the AP top 10.
That means, for better or worse, Allen will be in the spotlight again, revered by Duke fans and reviled by opposing supporters.
As a freshman, Allen was an unlikely title game hero. As a sophomore, he emerged as both a breakout star and an antihero. As a junior, his performance slipped and his tripping habit returned.
How will Allen’s senior season be remembered? Next winter we’ll find out.
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