Grayson Allen's Title Game Shows He'll Be Next Most Loved (and Hated) Duke Star

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesCollege Basketball National AnalystApril 7, 2015

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There's a pretty good chance that three of the four freshmen from Duke's incredible 2014 recruiting class will be jumping to the NBA this June. Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow seem like foregone conclusions, and it's tough to see what Tyus Jones has left to prove at the college level after putting forth such an incredible performance in the national championship game and being named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.

But it's the one freshman who is going to stay that Duke haters (translation: 95 percent of the population) will wish they never had to see again.

What Grayson Allen did in the title game against Wisconsinscoring 16 points entirely at critical junctureswas just a glimpse into what he will be capable of doing as a regular in Duke's rotation next season.

Whether he remains with the Blue Devils for one, two or three more years, it's already apparent that Allen is going to follow in the footsteps of so many Duke guards before him by becoming the most adored player in Durham and the most vilified player in every other city in the country.

Mark Singelais @MarkSingelais

In 20 years, will ESPN be airing the "I Hate Grayson Allen" 30 for 30?

Before we look ahead, though, let's take a look back at how he got to this point. Because if Allen plays the rest of his college days with a chip on his shoulder, he has good reason.

Allen was the first member of Duke's 2014 class to commit. According to BigShots.net, Duke was always the dream for him, and it became a reality when he committed to Coach K in April 2013.

Rush the Court @rushthecourt

Grayson Allen: "I dreamed about it ever since 8th grade" (That was 2010, which was the last time Duke won a title. Yes, we feel old too.)

For a solid seven months, he was going to be the next big thing for Duke basketball. But then Okafor and Jones committed in mid-November 2013. Winslow followed suit six days later. Suddenly, Allen went from presumed starting shooting guard to a stud who would only get to play in garbage time.

Allen deserved better, but what could Coach K possibly have done differently? Tyus Jones might be a lottery pick, Quinn Cook was the team leader and arguably its most valuable player, and Rasheed Sulaimon was expected to be a crucial part of Duke's rotation. It's crazy to think about now, but before the season, we weren't even sure if Winslow would start due to how overcrowded Duke's backcourt was.

It didn't matter that Allen won the McDonald's All-American Slam Dunk Contest after being lauded for his three-point shooting ability in high school. There simply wasn't any room at the inn.

His time to shine would have to wait.

But he never gave up. He only worked harder.

Following the title game, ESPN's Eamonn Brennan quoted Duke assistant coach Jon Scheyer as saying:

At the start of the year, he wasn't playing a lot, and literally every day he was the last guy in the gym, putting work in after practice. Then he started playing a little bit, and he was still the last guy in the gym. Then maybe he would have a game where he didn't play. And the one thing that was constant was the work he put in after practice.

Many of us thought Allen's time had arrived when Sulaimon was dismissed from the program in late January, but Matt Jones wound up primarily benefitting from those available minutes. Meanwhile, Allen patiently waited for his chance.

It's not a surprise that he scored 25 points combined against Michigan State and Wisconsin on college basketball's biggest stage. The surprise is that it took so long for him to get the opportunity.

Now that he has, look out world.

It's not just that he's good. He is. He's very good. If you don't believe it now, you'll realize it in November. It's that he knows he's good and wants to make sure you know he knows he's good.

David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Before Duke had even advanced to the Elite Eight, Ben Shpigel wrote a piece for The New York Times about Duke's patented floor slap. Even just in the way Allen described the act, you can sense the confidence that will endear him to the Cameron Crazies and infuriate the rest of the world.

"You can't be weak when you do it," he told Shpigel. "You've got to be strong. It's that thing where you're showing the other team, like, 'Look, we're here, we're ready to get a stop'—and you're and the teammates behind you—like, 'Let's get a stop.'"

He won't be quite the three-point assassin that J.J. Redick was, but imagine if Redick lost a little bit of that range and replaced it with the ability to dunk. Now imagine that version of Redick diving all over the court after loose balls, making acrobatic layups and screaming like a tribal warrior after big plays.

Redick is just one of many loathed Duke players throughout the years. Let's not forget Steve Wojciechowski, Greg Paulus, Shane Battier, Mason Plumlee, Jon Scheyer, Jay Williams and Austin Riversthe last of which Grantland's Mark Titus always referred to as "ARPF," short for "Austin Rivers' Punchable Face."

No one will ever replace Christian Laettner on top of the list of most hated Duke players, but Allen is going to give Laettner a run for his money if he stays for four years. And the legend himself was cheering on the kid last night:

Christian Laettner @laettnerbball

Jax native Grayson Allen!! And Minny native tyus jones gettin it done!! Come on fellas...u can do it!! #duketeam

According to Andrew Carter of the Charlotte Observer, Winslow said after the game that Krzyzewski often refers to Allen as an "a-----e" in practice.

Call it a hunch, but that probably won't be the most colorful word used by opposing fans to describe him in the near future.

Kerry Miller covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @kerrancejames.


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