It can't be all Nike all the time, can it? Grayson Allen arrived at the 2012 Big Shots event without any national hype, or shoe backing, and he proceeded to place himself on the map after impressing at the event with Douglas Brothers. And his next stop, the Peach State Classic, solidified his growing reputation.
By the end of the Peach State, Allen had made himself a high-major priority and the scholarship offers began to flow. By the end of that July, he claimed offers from Florida, Florida State, Purdue, Illinois and Georgia, with burgeoning interest from Boston College, Duke, North Carolina, N.C. State, Notre Dame, Tennessee and Virginia Tech.
At the dawn of his junior season, he embarked on an unofficial visits tour that included Florida, Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State. Clearly, he had become a prime heavyweight target.
But Allen didn't become so consumed by his recruitment that he forgot about the season. He led Jacksonville (Fla.) Providence to a state championship and averaged 29 points per game in the tournament.
That triumph propelled him to the travel circuit with tremendous momentum, and in 2013 he opted for Nike's EYBL circuit. In April, however, he hit a snag. He performed with Southern Stampede and appeared out of sorts at the first event in California, then struggled with ankle and knee problems for the remainder of the month.
But he'd proved himself sufficiently to draw an offer from Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils, and he pledged to them in late April. He followed that up with much better outings during the summer. He continued to play on the EYBL circuit but switched to Each 1 Teach 1, and he averaged double-digit scoring at the Peach Jam to help lead his club to the championship.
He'll attempt to repeat this season at Providence and prepare himself for his career in Durham in 2014-15.
Allen is a good, solidly built athlete who's at his best in transition. He runs with a smooth stride and is an explosive leaper off of one foot, and accordingly he has graced numerous YouTube highlight reels.
He's also a very good ballhandler. So good, in fact, that we initially listed him as a combo guard. The Blue Devils hope that Tyus Jones will be their man at point, but having a wing who can transition to that spot in stretches — or full-time, as Jon Scheyer did late in his career — can be invaluable.
Allen's shooting stroke also appears workable. He didn't shoot as well as he'd like at many events, but he improved toward the end of July and hit a respectable percentage at the Peach Jam. But because he possesses such good form, odds are he'll improve over the next few seasons.
His intangibles also warrant mention. He's an established winner and improved over time as he became accustomed to national competition. He didn't accrue the years of experience that many of his peers enjoyed in that regard, and not surprisingly he needed time to adjust. But once he did, his athletic and skill components stood out on a regular basis.
Although he's fast in the open court, Allen isn't tremendously quick laterally. He has had defensive problems for that reason, and at 6-3 (or perhaps a small 6-4) he doesn't possess ideal size to compensate. In an intense pressure man-to-man scheme, he'll be vulnerable to certain matchups.
And while I'm confident he'll become a good or perhaps even very good shooter, of course he must prove that to be the case. His results generally were okay, just not befitting what you'd expect given his stroke.
Duke wings also face extreme internal competition for playing time, and Allen conceivably could join a squad that includes talents such as Jabari Parker, Rodney Hood and Rasheed Sulaimon. But while Allen may not possess immediate, one-and-done ability, perhaps that's not such a bad thing for the program.
Scheyer serves as just one example. The more Duke recruits players such as Parker, Jones, et al, the more they'll need other legitimate blue-chippers to provide continuity. Allen clearly is good enough to play for Duke, and because his stint is likely to be a longer one, the coaching staff can assemble future recruiting plans with his long-term presence in mind.