Torian Graham has known for a while that he would be committing to NC State, but only a few other people knew it too. Monday he made it official when he drove over to the NC State campus and informed assistant coach Orlando Early that he wanted to play for the Wolfpack.
"We had it planned out," said Graham. "I already knew I was going to commit for some time but of course I didn't tell the coaches that.
"So I went over to State and talked with coach Early. When I told him the news he was jumping up-and-down... he was real happy. Everyone was excited. Coach Gottfried was out of town so I told him over the phone and he congratulated me. It was great."
Fans who follow recruiting may have been caught a bit off guard by how quickly Graham committed to the Wolfpack. He earned an offer from the previous staff last summer and had the Pack under consideration. However, following the coaching change it seemed State had really slipped.
On March 27th Graham informed Scout.com's Evan Daniels that he was considering Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, Miami, Clemson, UCLA and Florida with the Wildcats holding the advantage. NC State hired Mark Gottfried a few days later and he and his staff immediately made Graham a priority. The hardwork paid off as he is Gottfried's first true commitment as head coach at NC State.
"I always had them in mind," Graham said of NC State. "I decided to take a visit when the coaches came in and everything moved quickly from there. It seemed like I was able to build a great relationship with the coaches right away... things just took off."
Heading up his recruitment for NC State was assistant coach Orlando Early. Early, who spent last season as an assistant at South Carolina, played a major role in Graham's decision.
"I'm real comfortable with all the coaches, but especially coach Early... he was recruiting me," Graham said. "He's a real cool guy. He's more than just a coach to me. He's a friend and a mentor. We clicked right away. I think he will always be honest with me and tell me the good and the bad.
"I've felt all along like I was a priority for them. Being their first commitment means a lot to me. It shows that they care about me and I'm wanted."
Because Graham lives just minutes from NC State he has been able to take a few unofficial visits recently and that allowed him to become even more familiar with the coaches, facilities, campus, and current players. All of those factors led to the decision he made.
"Yes sir, I wanted to stay close to home and play ball," he said. "I wanted to stay close to my mom and friends, and I feel like NC State is a perfect fit for me when it comes to academics. Plus, I think they are going to play a tempo that fits me and it seems like their style fits me too."
Graham, who is rated a five-star prospect and the No. 25 player in the 2012 class by Scout.com, has game-changing ability. He is a natural scorer and can put points on the board in a variety of ways. If you need a basket, you can put the ball in his hands and let him make a play.
"Every team needs a go-getter, a guy who can get you a basket, and I think I can be that guy," said Graham. "You need those types of players to win a national championship and that's going to be our goal.
"When I step on the court, anger comes out of me... even with friends. I respect everybody, but once you step between the lines I'm going to go at you. If I had to describe my game I would say I have a slasher's game."
"A lot of people compare me to Kevin Durant and J.R. Smith," Graham added. "I can hit jumpshots but also score in transition and make big-time plays. I like to get the crowd going and play with a lot of energy... the way I see it there might be some little kid watching me for the first time so I want to make a big impression."
Graham says that now he plans on helping NC State land some other players, and he has a big fish in mind... top-10 talent Rodney Purvis, a 6-foot-4 combo guard out of Raleigh's Upper Room Christian Academy.
"I feel like I'm going to be a part of the recruiting staff," said Graham, laughing. "We're going to get Rodney Purvis. That's the way I feel. We're going to get him.
"We already had Tyler Lewis committed when I did, and now I'm trying to get Rodney to come join us. With me, Rodney, Tyler and some other guys I feel like we can turn the program around. We're trying to win a championship."
Growing up in Durham, North Carolina, Graham knows all about Tobacco Road and can't wait to play in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
"It's a dream come true," he said. "To get to play in the ACC... that's a big-time conference, I think it's the best. It's real exciting... can't wait."
Graham spent this past season at Word of God but is currently attending Pace Academy. He has yet to finalize his plans for his senior season but indicated that he is leaning towards attending Durham (NC) Jordan High School.
He is suiting up on the AAU circuit with DC Assault and will be playing in the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions over Memorial Day weekend.