CHARLOTTE – Duke was predicted to win the 2016-17 ACC regular-season championship by a contingent of media who cover the conference when the league office announced the preseason poll at Operation Basketball on Wednesday.
Led by captains Grayson Allen, Amile Jefferson and Matt Jones, Duke is ranked No. 1 in the preseason USA Today Coaches Poll. The Blue Devils’ returning nucleus also includes sophomores Chase Jeter and Luke Kennard, and the program brought in the nation’s second-ranked recruiting class this season.
This year marks the 16th time the league’s media has tabbed Duke to capture the ACC title in the preseason, including the 15th time under head coach Mike Krzyzewski. The Blue Devils received 85 of the 91 first-place votes in Wednesday’s poll.
Wednesday also saw Allen named Preseason ACC Player of the Year and, as such, a member of the Preseason All-ACC first team.
Allen led Duke with averages of 21.6 points and 3.5 assists per game in 2015-16. He is the lone major-conference player returning in 2016-17 who averaged at least 20 points per game and dished out at least 100 assists last season.
Allen pulled an All-American double as a sophomore, earning a variety of second and third-team honors for his play on the court while also collecting second-team CoSIDA Academic All-America honors. His +17.2-point scoring increase from his freshman to his sophomore seasons (4.4 to 21.6) was an ACC record.
The Jacksonville, Fla., native has played in 71 career games for Duke, making 35 starts, with averages of 13.1 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists. For his career, Allen is shooting .459 from the floor, .403 from outside the arc and .839 from the free throw line.
He enters his junior season needing just 68 points to become Duke’s 65th 1,000-point scorer.
Duke freshman Jayson Tatum was also honored on Wednesday with a second-team Preseason All-ACC nod.
Tatum was named both Gatorade Male Athlete of the Year and Gatorade Boys Basketball National Player of the Year in 2016 after averaging 29.5 points and 9.1 rebounds to lead Chaminade Prep to the Missouri Class 5A state title. He was a first-team USA Today All-USA and Naismith Trophy All-America selection in 2016, as well as a McDonald’s All-American and a Jordan Brand Classic participant.
The St. Louis native owns three gold medals as a member of the USA Basketball program: the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship, the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship and the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship. In 19 games for his country, Tatum has posted averages of 11.9 points and 4.1 rebounds.
The Blue Devils play the first of two exhibition games on Friday night when they host Virginia State for a 7 p.m. tip. The game will be streamed live on ACC Network Extra with Ryan Craig and Chris Spatola on the call, and the Blue Devil IMG Sports Network will have the radio broadcast.
Preseason All-ACC First Team
Grayson Allen, Duke
Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson
Joel Berry II, North Carolina
London Perrantes, Virginia
Dennis Smith Jr., NC State
Preseason All-ACC Second Team
Justin Jackson, North Carolina
Jayson Tatum, Duke
Tyler Lydon, Syracuse
Dwayne Bacon, Florida State
Michael Young, Pittsburgh
Preseason ACC Player of the Year: Grayson Allen, Duke
Preseason ACC Rookie of the Year: Dennis Smith Jr., NC State