Allen realizes his dream with Duke commit

A little more than a week ago the Blue Devils got their first commitment from the class of 2014. With the fanfare of committing now behind him, Grayson Allen can focus on making an impact when he arrives in Durham next summer. He spoke about that and more with TDD.

Going back to the commitment, how fast did things progress from getting an offer to knowing you wanted to commit?

Grayson Allen: I think I had always been interested in them, because they were my dream school growing up. I don't want to say I never thought it would happen, but I always tried to be realistic and I wasn't sure if it was going to happen based on where I was as a player before in my recruitment last summer. I was excited when they first started having interest but I would say that my interest didn't progress until I had a chance to talk with Coach K and saw how much of a normal guy he is and how down to earth and funny he is and how much interest he had in me. That's when I decided that Duke was the school for me.

Following up on your comment regarding your ability level, how does that progress?

It was what my coach said to me and I respect his opinion. He sat down with me and my parents last summer before the recruiting process really took off, and at that time, I wasn't at the caliber of being a Duke player so he asked me, "Which schools are you interested in?" I mentioned Duke, he told me thinking realistically at that time, he was just trying to keep me thinking realistically at my recruitment because I think at that point in time, I don't think you would have heard anybody say that I was at the caliber of Duke yet, so I set my mind to it and I started working even harder and taking the game of basketball more seriously and that's when I started getting better.

How did your parents support you through your recruiting process?

They definitely did help a lot, and they always had the right things to say. They always gave me good advice when I had questions on how to handle things and they kept me humble.

What were the discussions like when you were talking with them about your interest in Duke?

They just pretty much kept it up to me, they told me whenever you make up your mind to pray about it for several days and if you still feel the same, then make your commitment.

Were there concerns about committing early?

I think maybe the one concern might have been was could have any other schools come into the recruiting mix for me, but really, when I looked at it, it couldn't get any better than Duke and that's why I felt it was the best fit for me.

Can you elaborate on what makes you view Duke as the best fit for you as a person and player?

Just the fact that they are my dream school for starters. The playing style is something I can play in, because they have big guards and are versatile. Their players play multiple positions and spread the floor. Academically, they are the best and you can get a good education. I took a visit there before and I just loved the campus and I loved the state of North Carolina and the area up there. When you put it together with the relationship with the coaches, I felt very comfortable about making a commitment to them.

How did the visit come together?

It was right at the start of the season because when I went up there to see NC State play their first game. I had actually traveled primarily to see NC State because at that point they had offered me, and I called the North Carolina and Duke coaches and asked if I could come check out their places as well.

How much interaction did you have with the Duke coaches then?

A lot actually, a lot more than I went in expecting. I sat down, we got a tour of the campus, then we spent time with Coach K and the coaches, got a tour of his office, then we sat down and ate with them. It was really cool, spent quite a lot of time and then we saw a practice the next day. I only saw a part of the practice, but it was great to see their effort and intensity in practice. I think that a lot of people don't think that Coach K is really involved with the guys, but it's the total opposite, he's on the court with them, leading practice, just like everybody else.

What was the substance like of the conversations with Coach K on that visit?

It was pretty much about a lot of stuff, it wasn't just basketball related discussions.

Did you find your interest growing in Duke after that visit?

All those schools are obviously great, but I did stop and think to myself that it would be great to go to a school like Duke. It's hard not to be wowed and enamored by the whole thing when you visit.

What changed for you then after that visit from being interested in Duke to seriously considering them as a possible place to attend?

I think when the offer came during the in-home visit and sitting down with Coach K and discussing the basketball side of things at the in-home visit. At the time I was just trying to go through the thought process with the schools before the in-home visit and I was realistic that Duke hadn't offered at that point but I did have interest in them, but once they offered and I talked with Coach K, that's when I progressed to having serious interest in them.

How did Coach K present the offer to you?

We sat down, started talking and he was talking about his thoughts on my game and he said he really wanted to offer me a scholarship right then and there to Duke.

Was there a temptation in the moment to commit then or did you know you needed to think more about it?

There were hints that an offer might be coming during the in-home from Duke prior to it, so I was ready for it when we were doing the visit. At the time I was going into it, I didn't want to be taken over by the whole thing of having Coach K in my home. Like I said, Duke's my dream school, and I really wanted to make sure that I wasn't just going to Duke because it's my dream school, but because it was the best school and fit for me all-around. That's why I took the time then to seriously think and pray about it.

What confirmed it for you after thinking and praying that Duke was the place you wanted to go to?

I think it had been between 8-10 days after the offer had been given, and it was pretty much after the home visit, or right after it I was like, "I want to go to Duke, I want to go to Duke", but I gave myself some time and after about a week of thinking and praying about it. I still had the same feeling of wanting to go to Duke, looking at everything about it, that's when I knew I wanted to commit to Duke.

How did you communicate the commitment to Duke?

It was a phone call to Coach K. I called him up and we talked for a bit and then I told him that I really want to play for you, and I want to commit to Duke. He was in the car at the time with Coach Wojo and Coach Nate James and he was really excited about it and he said that Coach Wojo and Coach James were also really excited about having me be a part of the team now.

How did you feel after that call?

I felt really relieved. To know where you are going to college and have it off your chest, it's really great. All the fan support is really nice too, it's a good feeling knowing that where you decided to go, the people are going to really support you there, it's probably the craziest group of fans and they really know the game and the players at Duke, so it's a great feeling knowing I'll be playing in front of them.

How much are you keeping up with Duke's recruiting efforts in your class?

I am keeping up with that a lot, and I know who they are looking at. Coach K told me what they are looking to do with recruiting in my class and who they have offered and how they hope this class to go. Coach K said that Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor said they want to play together, so they think there's a good chance with them. It's exciting to see what could potentially happen with my class but you never know for sure until guys commit. It's definitely exciting to see the talent level at Duke and there's a chance to make a good run. I don't know how much recruiting I'll be doing because I don't want to try and do what the coaches jobs is and what they do very well with in terms of recruiting. This being my first year on the EYBL Circuit, I don't know a lot of guys, but if I do see guys that are being recruited by Duke, I of course will talk with them about that too, that's important.

What did the Duke staff share with you from a development standpoint that they are hoping to do with you as a person and player?

Yeah, they talked about that a lot. They see me as being able to be a combo guard, they don't see me as a position player but just as a player who is able to play the point guard and shooting guard positions. They asked me to work on my ball skills and also to keep working on being able to both score for myself and also make plays for others too.

Were there any comparisons made to prior Duke players?

Actually, not really.

Are there any planned visits to Duke coming up?

I think that I might go up there with my high school coach maybe right after school finishes and I hopefully get a free period, and then my official visit during the season hopefully to see a game in person.

What's your observations of the current Duke team for this season?

I think they will be stronger with who they have back and with Rodney Hood, he's a really good player and with Jabari Parker and Matt Jones and Semi coming in. I think they have a chance to do really well this season.

Last question--was there anything you learned about Coach K in your interactions with him that was very surprising to you from not knowing him previously?

I think that people might have  misconception that he's a big celebrity, but he's really not at all. He's a down to earth guy with a great sense of humor. It's funny with one of my coaches, a lot of people say he looks exactly like Chris Mullin, so it was funny when Coach K saw him for the first time and he told me that he thought it was funny that I was coached by Chris Mullin. He's such a funny guy, a cool person to talk to.

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