MDAA: Grayson Allen ready for Duke

The McDonald's All-American game has been a big week for future Blue Devil shooting guard Grayson Allen. The 6-foot-4 native of Jacksonville is having a strong week at practice and he also won the dunk contest with some electrifying dunks involving his future Duke teammates.

But Grayson Allen has enjoyed the whole week's worth of experiences so far as he spoke with TDD on Tuesday at the media day for the McDonald's All-American Game.

"It's been great. This hasn't been like a normal all-star game or all-star atmosphere at all, especially with our visit to the Ronald McDonald House. That was great. We had a lot of fun there," Allen said to TDD. "And just the practices don't have an all-star atmosphere, everyone is coming to compete and it's competitive. We're all going at each other and it's aggressive and physical. I'm having a lot of fun here. I like competing. I think everyone is using this opportunity to get better."

Allen is playing against many of the top wings in the country on his West team and so far is he learning from the experience of being in a big-time atmosphere with the best players in the country.

"I think this is boosting my confidence being around all of these elite athletes and great players. Going up against them every single play you have to go as hard as you can," Allen said. "You can't take any breaks. But I'm learning that I can compete with the best and kind of take my game to the next level."

The practices include Allen playing up against some really talented players on the West team in front of talent evaluators and NBA people.

"I've gone up a lot against Devin Booker in practice. Rashad Vaughn, Kelly Oubre, those guys can score in bunches. I got to guard Stanley (Johnson) some today and he's a beast; he's so strong and physical," Allen said. "All these guys have their thing, but they all can do a lot more and that's why they're great players."

Allen has also played with future Duke teammate Jahlil Okafor and has seen the kind of attention the No. 1 center in the country demands.

"It's kind of cool to see and get a glimpse of what we're trying to put together next year. Being on the same team as Jahlil, I've gotten to scrimmage with him a little bit. He's really dominant down low," Allen said. "I think next year is going to be a lot of fun. He draws a lot of attention so playing around him and playing together is going to be exciting."

When asked what the expectations were for his freshman season, Allen focused on the team before going into individual concerns.

"The goal for them every year is to get to the Final Four and get to the National Championship," Allen said.

"I'm just going to compete and play hard. I'm trying to get my body ready physically. Getting ready conditioning-wise for the next level. I think that if I can become a good defender on-ball and kind of lock down in that area and really knock down shots and be able to create some plays, I think I'll get on the floor."

It seems as though getting stronger to prepare for the ACC is also a focus from Duke's coaches when they speak with Allen.

"(The coaches tell me) keep working out, keep getting my body ready for the next level. I think that's one of the biggest adjustments. Playing against guys your age or younger in high school to playing guys as old as 23 in college that are stronger than you," Allen said.

Of course the ACC can wait for a bit as Allen's bounciness and dunk contest win are being talked about a lot at the McDonald's game. Allen just had fun seeing the kind of athletes he was surrounded by.

"It was really exciting. There were so many great athletes. We had a dunk practice the day before and just seeing all of those guys fly at the rim, that was really exciting. That was a great contest," Allen said. "But to pull it off and have the last two dunks with my future teammates, that was cool too. To be on national television was just exciting."

Allen jumped over the East team's Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow, his future Duke teammates on the second-to-last dunk and then West teammate and future Blue Devil Jahlil Okafor on the final dunk.

"I kind of pitched the idea to Jahlil as a joke and he kind of came to me and said, 'let's seriously do it,' so we tried it out in practice and I did it the first time so we decided to pull it off in the game," Allen said. "And a fan had the Jay Williams jersey, so that was kind of perfect timing with that. I wasn't expecting to do that. The dunk of Tyus and Justise, that one we just made up that night. We really didn't have that one planned at all."

Okafor had ideas for a different dunk that they could possibly try in the future.

"It was very fun for me and fun for (Grayson). I actually wanted him to jump over me and Justise with the alley-oop from Tyus but he thought I was crazy and he was like, 'there's no way I can do that.'" I kept telling him that he could," Okafor said. "I definitely wanted to be apart of him in the dunk contest. (Get us) some TV time so that was a lot fun last night."

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