Duke has landed a blue-chip guard; shocking, I know.
The Blue Devils have scored talented junior Grayson Allen. A 6-3 wing guard at Jacksonville (Fla.) Providence, Allen also claimed offers from Georgia Tech, N.C. State, Florida State, Florida and others.
Allen has cultivated a reputation for being an ace jump shooter along with possessing above-average athleticism. Some have compared him to former Duke All-American J.J. Redick, but Allen is less of a pure shooter (who isn’t?) and perhaps a slightly better leaper.
I watched Allen last weekend in California, where he competed on Nike’s EYBL circuit for the Southern Stampede. To be frank, he didn’t perform in overwhelming fashion, struggling to get open looks and blending in far more than one would anticipate for a future Duke wing.
In fairness, however, he’s adjusting to a new team and this was their first event. He’ll take the court in Hampton, Va., this weekend and likely will be more comfortable. Other college coaches who watched him in person this past season nearly unanimously came away excited about his potential. He didn’t emerge as a freshman or sophomore like many other national prospects in today’s era; he simply has played his way into the upper echelon as an upperclassman.
The question Allen must address is whether, at 6-3, he can become more than a jump shooter. His stroke alone should enable him to earn playing time for the perimeter-oriented Blue Devils, but of course he’ll face stout internal competition because Duke always carries a wing-loaded roster. He’s not a point guard and not a wing forward, even if Duke were to go small, so he must excel at the one position he can play.
Don’t assume the Devils are finished recruiting junior wings, either. Many have focused on their duel pursuit of top point guard Tyus Jones and center Jahlil Okafor, but they likely won’t stop recruiting others such as swingman Devin Booker, whom Mike Krzyzewski also watched extensively in California last weekend.
Allen projects as a top-50 overall prospect, at worst, and he’ll have the opportunity during the rest of spring and summer to play his way up from there.