Here’s Duke sophomore Grayson Allen’s line from today’s narrow loss to Louisville: 29 points (a game-high) on just 12 shots, five turnovers, six fouls (yes, six), one technical, one fight, one of the most audacious shots of the year. That’s a near-perfect, box score-sized encapsulation of Allen, the player. He’s a pest, he’s a gunner, his name sounds like a Vine star’s name, and he’s annoying as hell to watch. He is also, as it turns out, really damn good.
Here’s that “fight” from today. As you can see, Allen clearly deserved what he got (based on the sacred principe of “Don’t Start No Shit, It Won’t Be No Shit”), since he popped Jaylen Johnson (albeit subtly) first:
Since losing to Miami three weeks ago, Duke has beaten #7 Virginia, #5 North Carolina, and #13 Louisville. Allen was Duke’s best player in the North Carolina and Louisville games (all the more impressive considering Duke also has future #2 overall pick Brandon Ingram), and he hit a game-winner to beat Virginia.
Of course, that game-winner shouldn’t have counted, since his foot hit the ground before he shot it, and in the Louisville game, he intentionally tripped Raymond Spalding.
Depending on where you stand on Duke, you’d call him either scrappy or dirty. He gleefully leans into his role as college basketball’s villain, telling SI last year, “If being hated comes from that, I’ll guess I’ll live with that.” He’s a perfect Dookie: Allen went to private school, he’s been a Duke fan forever, and even Mike Krzyzewski’s nickname for him is “asshole.” Duke players and coaches have called him a cowboy and a dog in interviews. He is the spiritual successor to J.J. Redick, Christian Laettner, and Shane Battier. His school’s history of skilled assholes fits him like a glove, and he already has his creation myth; last year’s insane National Championship performance, where he, at one point, scored eight straight points.
Duke’s little dip out of the rankings for the first time since 2007 was fun, but as they’ve shown over the past two weeks, they’re legit. God forbid, but Allen and Ingram are both talented enough to take the Blue Devils on another tournament run. They aren’t going to win over any casual fans with their play, but Duke never does. They are and always have been The Enemy. Grayson Allen is both the reason why they could stick around deep into March, and the reason why everyone will be booing them if they do.
Photo via Getty