Grayson Allen to return to Duke for junior season

DURHAM, N.C. – Sophomore All-American Grayson Allen will return to Duke University for his junior season in 2016-17, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski announced Wednesday.

In 71 games in a Duke uniform, Allen has averaged 13.1 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists while shooting 40.3 percent from outside the arc and 83.9 percent from the free throw line. He will enter the 2016-17 campaign just 68 points shy of becoming the 65th 1,000-point scorer in program history.

“I talked with my parents and prayed about this decision, and I had the feeling that it was right,” Allen said. “I love Duke and I’ve made relationships with my teammates that will last forever. Coming back next season to play with them is important to me. Earning a Duke degree has always been a dream of mine, so I’ll also be working to get closer to that goal.”

Named a second-team All-American by The Sporting News, a third-team honoree by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and a John R. Wooden Award All-American following his stellar sophomore season, Allen is one of 31 Duke players to earn All-America honors under Krzyzewski’s tutelage.

A psychology major from Jacksonville, Fla., Allen was also honored as a second-team CoSIDA Academic All-American during the 2015-16 campaign.

He is the sixth Duke student-athlete to earn on-court All-America honors and Academic All-America recognition in the same season, joining Mike Gminski (1978, 1979, 1980), Jim Spanarkel (1978, 1979), Shane Battier (2000, 2001), Mike Dunleavy (2002) and Mason Plumlee (2013) in that exclusive group.

“We are thrilled that Grayson will be back with us next season,” said Krzyzewski. “Following the season, he put a lot of thought into an important decision that will impact the rest of his life. In the end, he chose to remain at Duke, where he will pursue an undergraduate degree and develop even more as a man and basketball player. Grayson’s passion and commitment to our school and his teammates have been very apparent in our discussions with him.

“On the court, Grayson is a warrior, as I’ve said many times,” Krzyzewski continued. “He has untapped potential, both on and off the basketball court. I have loved coaching Grayson and I’m going to love coaching him next season.”

Allen led Duke and ranked fifth among major-conference players in scoring with an average of 21.6 points per game. His +17.2-point scoring improvement from a year ago set a new ACC record for year-to-year scoring increase. He scored in double figures 34 times in 36 games this season, including 19 20-point efforts and four games with more than 30 points.

He finished the season on a streak of 25 consecutive games with double-figure points and was not held to fewer than 15 points in 18 regular-season ACC games this season. Allen’s 779 points in 2015-16 were good for seventh place on Duke’s single-season scoring chart, and his scoring average of 21.6 was the 15th-best in a single season in program history.

With 779 points, Allen turned in the second-highest scoring season by a sophomore in Duke history, trailing only the 841 that Jason Williams scored as a sophomore in 2001.

Allen shot 46.6 percent from the floor, a team-high 41.7 percent from three-point range and 83.7 percent from the free throw line. He averaged 4.6 rebounds to go along with team highs of 3.5 assists and 1.3 steals per contest. He averaged 36.6 minutes per game in 2015-16, playing 1,317 minutes to rank 10th on Duke’s single-season chart.

He ranked second in the ACC in scoring, third in minutes played, fourth in three-point percentage and three-pointers per game (2.50), fifth in free throw percentage, eighth in steals (1.31) and 10th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.76).

Allen was just the ninth Duke player to lead the Blue Devils in both scoring and assists in the same season, as well as just the seventh Duke player to average better than 20 points per game and hand out 100 assists in a season. He averaged 7.0 free throw attempts per game on the season, and his 211 made free throws on the campaign tied for the sixth-most in a single season in Duke history.

Allen was named a first-team All-ACC selection by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA) on March 6, giving Duke a first-team all-league member for the 19th time in the last 20 seasons. The following day, he secured first-team All-ACC and Co-Most Improved Player honors from the league’s coaches.

Allen was named a finalist for the Oscar Robertson Trophy, awarded to the National Player of the Year by the USBWA, as well as the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award. He was recognized as an All-District III performer by the USBWA and an All-District 2 honoree by the NABC.

One of the breakout performers of the 2015 NCAA Tournament, Allen helped lead Duke to its fifth NCAA championship with an average of 12.5 points on 50.0 percent shooting in two Final Four games. He was named to the Final Four All-Tournament Team after scoring 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting in the national championship game against Wisconsin, sparking a Duke rally from a nine-point deficit to its second national title of the decade.