Grayson Allen excited to face Bagley, Giles: Harry ‘incredibly tough mentally'


SACRAMENTO -- It will be a Blue Devils party Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center.

Not one, not two, but three Duke players are preparing to take an NBA court in a regular season for the first time, including two from the Sacramento Kings and one from the Utah Jazz. 

“It’s a whole bunch of brothers in the NBA,” Harry Giles III said following practice Tuesday. “We go from college being brothers together, to the league.”

Giles sat out his rookie season last year and finally is ready to make his debut after rehabbing his knees and building up his body. He’ll see time with fellow Duke big man Marvin Bagley III on the Kings’ front line, giving Sacramento an athletic pairing up front for the foreseeable future. 

Overlapping both Giles and Bagley in Durham, N.C., was shooting guard Grayson Allen. Selected by the Jazz with the 21st overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft, Allen is the elder statesman of the group at 23. He spent four seasons working with coach Mike Krzyzewski with the Blue Devils, and he’s excited to see his former teammates. 

“More teams than not will have Duke guys -- that’s kind of crazy, and a lot of will be guys that I played with -- so I’ll see this a lot throughout the year,” Allen said.

Allen spent last season watching Bagley go crazy in the ACC. The Kings' prized rookie posted 21 points and 11.1 rebounds per game for Duke as it finished the season with a 29-8 record.

The previous season, Allen watched Giles join the Kings and then have another setback in his long recovery from bilateral ACL tears.

“He’s incredibly tough mentally, and you have to be to do what he’s done -- stay a confident basketball player after having so many injuries, so many setbacks,” Allen told NBC Sports California during shoot-around Wednesday. “I definitely felt for him when he was at Duke because over the summer he was getting better, you could see what he could do, and then something else happens where he has to have a little procedure or something minor.”

Both Bagley and Giles left Allen with vivid memories, but Giles’ struggles and perseverance stood out to the team’s captain. 

“I’m really happy to see him now, last game in the preseason when we played him, I could tell he is comfortable and confident moving around,” Allen said. “He’s getting back to himself. That’s awesome for me to see because I know how good he can be. You see flashes of potential all the time, where you just know he’s a special, talented basketball player. It’s really cool, and you just know a guy that’s been through that kind of journey has more mental toughness than pretty much anybody.”

When the ball goes up in the air, it will be all business for three players. They come from one of the best NCAA basketball programs in the country, and they’ve been taught by a legendary coach. 

The journey for each is unique. Bagley is the blue chipper looking to make a splash after being taken with the No. 2 overall selection over the summer. Allen is the grizzled vet after playing a full four seasons at Duke, and Giles is the comeback kid, trying to prove he’s back after struggling with injuries over the last three years.

"It's going to be exciting," Bagley said Monday. "Preseason is over. It's the start of our NBA careers, officially."

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