If you can’t tell, that’s 7-0 Jahlil Okafor he’s jumping over.
Grayson Allen, the 6-4, 195-pound Jacksonville, Florida, product and soon-to-be Duke freshman, won the Powerade Jam Fest with this display of his incredible leaping ability.
I know what you’re thinking, and the answer is yes, Allen is indeed an excellent shooter. But to make the easy comparison to former Duke player J.J. Redick would be unjust; Allen has hops. After speaking with Allen, one thing became clear to me: no matter what kind of outlandish displays Allen puts on in college, he’ll never be J.J. Redick because it is impossible to hate Grayson Allen. (And anyone outside of Durham, North Carolina, loathed J.J. Redick.)
Allen is a combo guard capable of running the offense or carrying the scoring load. An excellent passer, Allen can be borderline too unselfish; he’s almost always looking to get his teammates involved. When he does look to score the ball, he does so running off of screens, or is capable of creating his own shot.
Allen took some time to answer a few questions on the eve of Wednesday’s McDonald’s All-American Game.
*** *** ***
Dime: You’re about my height, how are you capable of winning the dunk contest while I can barely get off the ground?
Grayson Allen: (Laughs) I think it’s a little bit of creativity and a little bit of me being blessed with athletic ability. You know, maybe a little bit of craziness being thrown in there as well, having the idea to jump over Jahlil.
Dime: What was going through your head as you were doing that? Do you think anybody expected that?
GA: I definitely don’t think people expected that; to be honest I was a little nervous when I saw him. It was different when we were talking about it and then actually seeing a seven-footer standing underneath the rim. I was a little nervous, but with the crowd cheering me on and the adrenaline I did it.
Dime: What was the deciding factor on choosing Duke for you?
GA: When I was in ninth grade I kind of said that Duke was going to be my dream school, and then when I was going through the recruiting process and it became a little more realistic I kind of looked into it and did a little research and I really thought it was going to be the perfect fit for me as well. Just academically and being able to play for one of the greatest coaches of all time, and playing for a winning program is up there. You know, I want to compete and I want to win.
Dime: I saw Coach Wojo (Steve Wojciechowski) just took the Marquette job. Was he a part of the recruiting process for you?
GA: Yeah, he was kind of the main person who recruited me. I always liked talking to him; I liked him a lot just because of how honest he was with me through the whole recruiting process. So, it is kind of sad to see him leave the Duke program, it’s kind of a loss. But I see him doing great things at Marquette and he’ll be a great fit there.
Dime: What do you do off the court? What are you passionate about besides basketball?
GA: You know I love going to the beach. Where I’m at in Jacksonville, it’s probably 15-20 minutes from the beach, so it’s pretty summer year round in Florida so that’s always fun.
Dime: What are your expectations for yourself and the program next year?
GA: As far as myself I know we’re going to have a lot of depth and talent, so I’m just going to try and go in there and get my body physically ready now to transition to the next level and really just take whatever role I get from Coach and just make the most of it. As a team I think we have enough talent and the experience coming back and us four coming in that I think our goal should be a championship. I think we have enough pieces to do that.
Dime: What kind of music do you listen to?
GA: I think Drake is definitely my favorite artist. I listen to a lot of Los, and some Lecrae here and there. But before games I’m kind of quiet, I don’t really listen to anything I just let my mind clear. I kind of stick to that.
Dime: Are you big into video games? Do you play any 2K?
GA: Yeah, I do.
Dime: Who’s your team?
GA: You know I usually play as the Heat, I know a lot of people hate to hear that. I like playing with Golden State as well.
Dime: Are you just interested in picking teams that everyone else seems to hate against? You know Duke and Miami have a pretty big group of haters.
GA: (Laughs) You know I kind of like that. I don’t go out there and play to be hated; you know I don’t think that’s anyone’s goal. But hate kind of fuels the fire; I take it as motivation. I don’t let it get to my head or anything like that.
Dime: Is there any kind of rivalry growing with the North Carolina players? (Three All-Americans are North Carolina signees: Justin Jackson, Theo Pinson and Joel Berry II.) Any jokes going back and forth between you guys?
GA: A little bit, you know we’re all really good friends but we’re always joking and making fun of each other about it. They’re always making jokes like we play in a high school gym or something like that and we’re always making jokes about them always being in the NIT. We’ve got a little bit of a rivalry going on; we’re all really good friends. So, you know it’s definitely fun.
How good will he be at Duke?
Follow Ian on Twitter at @Ian_Flick.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.