While winning two national titles and four ACC crowns, Duke has transitioned from the traditional four-year player development model to a team built on one-and-done freshmen.
The changing landscape caused us to decide to choose two All-Decade teams—All-One-and-Done and All-Lifer.
Our first member of the All-Lifer team for the 2010 to 2019 decade is, perhaps, the last great four-year Blue Devil.
Perhaps no Duke player had more teammates than Grayson Allen, who played with everyone from Jahlil Okafor to Marvin Bagley III. While the one-and-dones shuffled in and out of Duke Blue, Allen remained, serving as the heart and soul of the late-decade Blue Devils.
Allen started as a role player on the 2014-15 National Champion team, behind higher-profile freshmen Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow. He etched his name in Duke history, however, when he scored eight straight points to lead a comeback against Wisconsin in the title game.
“We were kind of dead in the water,” Coach K said afterward. “Grayson put us on his back.”
Allen continued to carry the team on his back for three years, starring when needed, supporting when needed, and frequently battling through injury.
After averaging 4.4 points as a freshman, Allen stepped up as a sophomore, with his higher profile teammates moved on to the NBA, winning Most Improved Player honors by averaging 21 points.
Allen was first-team All-ACC, second-team All-American, then took a back seat again as high-scoring freshmen Brandon Ingram and Bagley arrived in successive years.
Allen was followed by controversy throughout his Duke career, thanks to several incidents where the hard-nosed Blue Devil guard tripped opposing players. He served a one-game suspension (first announced as an “indefinite suspension”) and was stripped of his captain title after one of them.
When he moved on to the NBA, Allen finished as a relic of a bygone age and a symbol of just how much the sport has changed.