Grayson Allen’s final game at Cameron Indoors on Saturday night has us feeling nostalgic about the most polarizing player since another Tobacco Road villain.
On Saturday night, a ceremony unfolded before the eyes of Duke fans in Durham. It was Senior Night, so the Cameron Crazies came to celebrate their only senior: Grayson Allen.
Over a decade ago, people thought J.J. Redick was a controversial figure. He was confident, poised, and shot the lights out of a building. Everyone knew his deal and loved him or hated him accordingly.
Allen was a different beast entirely.
He was one of the most talented players to come along for Duke in a long time. That became clear at the end of his freshman season, when he scored eight straight points en route to leading the team to a national championship.
But he also earned a villainous role. In February 2016, Allen tripped a member of the Louisville Cardinals, immediately receiving the label of a dirty player. From there, things only deteriorated that month, from a shouting match with a referee to yet another tripping incident.
Another tripping incident during his junior year led to a suspension and the stripping of his captaincy. It was the lowest moment of his short collegiate career.
He’s largely shed those issues this season, even if people are always waiting for the next shoe to drop (in front of an opponent). He’s averaging career highs in steals, assists, and free throw percentage this season, while averaging 15.5 points per game.
So what’s Allen’s Duke legacy?
On the one hand, his antics brought shame and negative attention on himself, his coach, and his team.
On the other hand, he’s been first team All-ACC, earned All-American nods from several publications, and led the Blue Devils to their most recent title. He’ll finish his career in the top 20 of all-time scorers at the school, and should hit 2,000 points during the postseason.
With apologies to fans on both sides of the road, the easiest comparison is to North Carolina legend Tyler Hansbrough. Both are one-time champions. Their fans love them. Everybody else hates them.
Grayson Allen’s will shape the rest of his legacy over the next month. Best believe it will be debated feverishly for the rest of time.