Graham Ready For Challenge

What a difference a week made for Kansas freshman point guard Devonte’ Graham.

What a difference a week made for Kansas freshman point guard Devonte’ Graham. On June 11, at the Bill Self alumni camp scrimmage at Horejsi Center, Graham was held scoreless.

But in Wednesday’s second and final scrimmage, Graham scored six points, showed nice range from three-point land, and looked poise and controlled in running the team as his Blue team lost to the Red squad, 84-83.

“I was definitely more comfortable,” Graham said. “Last week (it was my) first time playing in front of the campers. It was fun, though.”

Graham, who is taking classes this summer school, said he’s making the transition to KU very smoothly.

“I feel like I’m adjusting pretty well,” he said. “I’ve been away from home for a long time because I went to Brewster (Academy), so it’s been (an) easier adjustment.”

It was at Brewster that Graham caught the eye of Self and the Kansas coaching staff. A native of Raleigh, N.C., Graham went under the radar in high school and originally signed with Appalachian State in November 2012. He never enrolled there and spent the 2013-14 season at Brewster Academy prep school in Wolfeboro, N.H.

The 6-2, 175-pound Graham averaged 17.2 points and 5.0 assists per game and led Brewster to the national prep championship and New England championship in 2013-14. After a coaching change at Appalachian State, Graham was finally granted his NLI release in April 2014. He’s ranked as the No. 41 player in his class by

Self was thrilled to sign a potential star in Graham, who helped replace the transfer of Naadir Tharpe. He will compete with sophomores Frank Mason and Conner Frankamp for starting point guard.

“We’ve had our fair share of guys from Brewster over the years, primarily Naadir and Thomas (Robinson),” Self said. “We’re very familiar with that program. We certainly solidified our situation in the backcourt by bringing in a quality guy and I think Devonte’ is one of the premier point guards in the country. Jason Smith is not a good coach, he’s a great coach. He’s been at Brewster for a number of years and has coached many, many great ones. He definitely made me feel Devonte’ is as good as any he has had in the backcourt.”

Graham explained why he picked the Jayhawks.

“It was between here and N.C. State,” the soft-spoken Graham said. “I went on both of my visits back-to-back, came here, went there. I just felt like KU was the best place, best fit for me. The opportunity to play right way and winning and being a part of something special.”

Graham has a chance to be "something special" and eventually possibly the best point guard Self has produced since Sherron Collins. But he knows he has much work to do first, such as effectively guarding speedy Mason, who scored 20 points for the Red team, including the game-winning layup with seven seconds left.

“Ah man, he’s crazy,” Graham said. “He’s super fast and he’s starting to be able to shoot the outside shots. It’s a tough job (defending him).”

Defenders may soon say the same statement about Graham.

So what type of player is KU getting?

“A point guard who can score and facilitates first and makes everyone around better,” Graham replied.

Self has called Graham a great closer.

“I think I close pretty well, even though I wasn’t out there at the end of the game,” he said. “I should have been, but I let everyone else play. Tyshawn (Taylor) told me I should have been in there,” Graham added with a smile.

He got some advice during the game from former KU point guards Aaron Miles and Jeff Hawkins.

“Just about being a leader and being more vocal as a point guard,” Graham said. “You got to step up and communicate well with everybody else. That’s mainly what they were talking about.”

Graham showed little hesitation during the scrimmage, whether it was pulling up and swishing a three or delivering the ball to an open teammate.

“Coach Self has been telling us, it’s either you pass, you shoot, or you attack, and if I don’t have the two other options, I’ll pass it,” Graham said. “I’ve been working on ... being more decisive. You got to move fast. That’s an adjustment you have to make.”

The slender North Carolina native knows he must put on weight to handle the blows of major college basketball.

“I got to get used to the weight room and physicality of (the game),” he said.

Once Graham gets used to it and other nuances of college hoops, the sky’s the limit. Top Stories