The 2014 freshman class was one of the best in college basketball history, and nowhere is that more prevalent than Duke, as the school won it’s fifth National Title on Monday night due in large part to their stellar recruiting class.
With Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow projected to be top-five picks in the NBA Draft, one would expect a big contribution from the two on championship night. However, it was two of Duke’s more under-heralded first years that made the biggest impact, as Tyus Jones and Grayson Allen put on a performance for the ages.
While Jones was named the Final Four MVP, the game truly belonged to Allen, who came from almost obscurity to pace the Blue Devils.
Allen was regulated to bench duty almost all season, and saw fellow freshman, Okafor, Winslow and Jones, average just over 41 points a game. Meanwhile, Allen would only average a measly 4.4.
However, That’s not to say Allen didn’t have the talent as the other three. In fact, he himself was a McDonald’s All-American, averaging 22.8 points , 4.2 assists and 1.7 steals per contest as a high school senior.
Allen wasn’t even on the court during the Blue Devils win over Wisconsin earlier in the season. Yet, he might have been the X-Factor in Monday’s rematch, outscoring the Badgers 8-3 during a key run in the second half.
“We were kind of dead in the water,” Krzyzewski said. We were nine points back and Grayson just kind of put us on his back.”
Allen credits his breakout play to constant preparation by him and his teammates.
“We push each other in practice becuase we know that’s going to make us better. So, I mean that was big preparation for me to be in this moment.”
With Okafor, Winslow, and now likely Jones headed towards the NBA Draft, Allen will have a much bigger role on next year’s Blue Devils team. Judging by his
19-point outburst on Monday night he seems to be up for the challenge.