As the Villanova Wildcats cut down the nets in Houston for their first NCAA Men’s Basketball championship since 1985, a number of college basketball pundits reflected on the season in a negative light. While this college basketball season did not feature a team nearly as dominant as last year’s Kentucky team, the balance throughout the tournament field presented the opportunity for a tremendous tournament. However, with the exception the first few days of days, and the national championship game, close contests were few and far between. This raises the question that some pundits have raised; has college basketball lost some of its appeal?
While lifelong college basketball fans will always hold the tournament near and dear to their hearts, the casual sports fan might hold a different opinion regarding the Big Dance. One significant reason this might be case is the increased number of “one and dones” that elect to leave college after one season in hopes of capitalizing on a lifelong NBA dream. Despite a number of these players being ready for NBA play at younger ages, this trend has had an extremely negative impact on the college game. A greater emphasis has been put on recruiting, with player development being placed on the backburner, as the nation’s best young players all have one eye on the NBA before stepping foot onto a college campus.
As the number of one and dones continues to rise each and every year, one player from Duke University went against the grain by announcing that he will be returning to Duke for his third season of college basketball.
Grayson Allen became a household name for fans of college basketball after surprising the Wisconsin Badgers with 16 points of the bench in last year’s National Championship game en route to Duke’s fifth championship in school history. While the Blue Devils were burned by the departures of Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow, and Tyus Jones, Allen was able to assert his dominance this season, leading Duke in scoring, assists, and steals. As this year came to a close in the Sweet Sixteen, Allen was left with a major decision to make regarding his future. Would he forgo his final two seasons at Duke in hopes of making an immediate impact in the NBA, or would he show loyalty to school and head coach that gave him the platform to showcase his tantalizing craft?
While there was little debate as to what Duke teammate Brandon Ingram would decide as he is projected as a top three pick, Allen’s case was more on the ambiguous side. Allen was projected by many as a late first round pick with the potential to slide into the second round. With this in mind, Allen recently announced his plans to stay at Duke for his junior season.
With Allen’s decision to stay at Duke, the Blue Devils are poised for another championship run as incoming freshmen Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, and Frank Jackson will provide Coach Krzyzewski’s team with another monster recruiting class. Combine the talented incoming freshmen with the veteran leadership of Allen and Amile Jefferson, and Duke has one of the most talented teams in the country going into next season.
Not only is Allen’s decision great for Duke and fans of their program, but is is terrific for college basketball as a whole. Through his stellar play and minor on court tripping instances, the media labeled Allen as the next white Duke villain. Allen has found himself amongst the likes of Christian Laettner, Steve Wojciechowski, and JJ Redick in the minds of almost every media personality. With Allen staying at Duke for at least one more year, this storyline has the potential to dominate the college basketball world. While from afar college basketball may have seemed dull to the average fan this season, next year should prove to be much more enthralling and narrative driven.
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Photo: Duke University Athletics