In an essay in The Players’ Tribune published Tuesday, Grayson Allen, a Duke senior basketball guard, reflected on the lessons he’s learned at Duke, why he picked the school and why he decided to return for his senior year.
In the humble essay published on the site that presents first-person narratives of athletes, the 6-5, 205-pound guard addresses how he went from being a soccer player as a child to a scrappy “streetball” player in middle school, and how former Duke guard Quinn Cook helped him come out of his quiet shell. He also writes about his mistakes on the court, writing that he’s “harbored a lot of shame and embarrassment” for them.
Among his reflections, Allen recounts how nervous he was to meet Mike Krzyzewski when the Hall of Fame Duke coach visited him and his family in their Jacksonville, Fla., home.
It was Coach K, sitting at his dining room table eating his mother’s signature dish, chicken scampi, Allen wrote.
“The entire time I remember just thinking, Coach K is right here at our dining-room table,” he wrote.
And it was that same man who stood by him at his lowest, he said.
“Over the past couple of years, he’s definitely been hard on me after I’ve fallen short of our program’s standards and my own,” Allen wrote. “He’s never sugarcoated things when I messed something up. But he’s also never tried to shame me. And he’s never given up on me, even when countless others suggested he should.”
Allen was stripped of his captaincy in 2016, his junior season, after tripping Elon guard Steven Santa Ana during a game. Allen returned to Duke for his senior season not knowing whether he would regain his title as captain. Duke announced in early October his teammates had elected him as captain this season.
“I stayed at Duke because, like most college students, I still have some growing up to do –and because there’s nowhere else I’d rather do it,” Allen wrote in the essay. “I’m back at Duke because I never left.”