DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Grayson Allen came back to Duke to win again — not necessarily to clear his name.
A series of tripping incidents had fans and enemies scrutinizing every move the polarizing guard made and led to the embarrassing loss of his team captaincy a year ago.
But instead of bolting early to the NBA, like many of his teammates, Allen returned for his senior season while reclaiming his position as a team captain.
VIDEO: Duke guard Grayson Allen explains why he's not into a "redemption story" during his senior season. pic.twitter.com/DuqFfqXmPb
— Joedy McCreary (@JoedyAP) October 4, 2017
Allen insisted Tuesday that he's "not worried about any type of redemption story or anything like that."
Consider it the final chapter of a complicated four-year character arc that spans from ebullient freshman to lightning rod to something of an elder statesman.
His wide-spanning reservoir of experience is a key reason why Allen earlier this week was announced as a team captain once again after losing the job last year.
"He deserves the opportunity to lead," Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "And a lot of times, the best leader is the one that's gone through the most experiences because they can have empathy for highs and mediums and lows."
Allen had plenty of them during the past couple of seasons, and the most significant of those was ultimately his responsibility — his tripping of an Elon player during a December game in Greensboro that earned him an indefinite suspension that turned out to be for one game . He tripped two other opponents during the previous season, earning a flagrant foul for one of them and a reprimand from the Atlantic Coast Conference for the other.
He vowed it won't happen again because "my focus this year is going to be on the team.
"That's what I have to do as the leader," he added. "What I've learned is ... I can't focus on the one-on-one stuff with someone on that team. If I get angry, I've got to turn that to my team. ... Not an individual battle that's, in the end, meaningless to the whole game. That's where I've grown, and that's what I'm learning to do this year."
Those incidents made Allen even more polarizing than the average Duke basketball player generally is.
With seemingly every game after that, fans on social media analyzed video and screengrabs of Allen, trying to discern whether there was any malice in any of his encounters with opposing players. The frenzy reached a point that a Florida State assistant felt obligated to log onto Twitter to absolve Allen of any wrongdoing after the Duke guard collided with him on the bench.
He finished last season with a scoring average of 14.5 points — down significantly from his 21.6-point average in 2015-16 — and with most of his other stats down from his sophomore season as well, his NBA draft stock no doubt took a huge hit.
Still, he easily could have followed his teammates out the Cameron Indoor Stadium door and tried to make it in the pros — where the criticism would at least come with a paycheck. Instead, he willingly chose to come back for another dose of it.
"I just want to be a winner at the end of the day," he said. "That's it. My goal is to come in and win."
The Blue Devils are asking him to be the voice of leadership. Allen, the only senior on a team that also has just one junior, is the only returning player who averaged more than eight minutes per game last season.
He'll be asked to help bring along a talented nucleus of talented freshmen including forward Marvin Bagley III and Gary Trent Jr. — the third one-and-done-heavy class in four seasons for Allen, who came to Duke in 2014-15 along with Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow.
Back then, Allen's name became synonymous with his hustle plays against Wisconsin in the 2015 national championship game sparking those Blue Devils to their most recent NCAA Tournament title.
"I've been a part of four young teams now," Allen said. "I've seen the importance of it, being successful with it my freshman year and then two years in the middle, could have been better. I think I've learned from that, and we're doing a good job of putting this group together."
Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter @JoedyAP