Graham: "I Can Play Right Away"

Devonte Graham thought he had found what he was looking for when he signed with Appalachian State in the fall of 2012.

Devonte Graham thought he had found what he was looking for when he signed with Appalachian State in the fall of 2012.

A standout at Raleigh (NC) Broughton High School, Graham picked the Mountaineers over several other mid-major programs.

"At that time I think I was viewed as more of a mid-major player," said Graham. "Out of all the schools recruiting me they were there and came to a lot of games.

"I was looking mainly at them, UNC-W, ECU, and some other schools, but when I went on my visit I liked it. I also had a good relationship with coach Capel and coach Gainey."

However, shortly after signing Graham said he began to question if he made the right decision... if he should he have waited until the spring to sign.

"I wasn't sure," he said. "I felt like I could play on a higher level and really just had a change of heart about it."

Once he realized that he wanted to explore his options, Graham said he notified the App. State coaches of his decision. But, they didn't want to release him from his letter of intent which led him to choosing the prep school route.

Players attend prep schools for a variety of reasons, and Graham wanted to put himself in a position to be recruited again but also receive additional exposure.

"T.J. [Warren], I played with him in AAU and he went to Brewster and so did Ike [Copeland]... I knew he was going there," said Graham. "It really made my decision easy, for me to attend Brewster.

"It's been a great year. It's a great experience being away from home. The competition was much better than regular high school, and I've improved so much."

Graham wasn't released from his letter of intent until last week, when App. State named a new head coach to replace Capel. Immediately, his recruitment exploded.

"It was a huge relief," said Graham. "After having to wait a year and two months, it was a huge relief. I never actually questioned what I did. I was going with the flow, and once I got released that's when I knew I had made the right decision.

"I think I was released last Wednesday, and those first three days were really, really busy. I met with three or four head coaches a day. Now it's a dead period so it slowed down a lot, and I've narrowed my list down already."

Initially he was considering nearly 20 schools but has quickly cut the list down to five: Kansas, NC State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Providence.

This weekend he will head to Kansas for his first official visit.

"The program speaks for itself," Graham said of Kansas. "Coach Self came down and we talked, and it seems like he really wants me to be there. He thought I should visit and see for myself if it's where I want be."

The next trip will be to NC State, Graham's hometown school. He will be back in Raleigh next Monday for his official visit.

Graham is already familiar with the Wolfpack coaching staff.

"Coach Gottfried, I've known him since I think my sophomore year in high school because I've been playing with his son," he said. "He's been to all my games because he's watched his son play, so I know he knows how I play. Plus, coach Early, he grew up knowing one of my uncles."

What does Graham like about the Wolfpack?

"I can play right away at State," he stated. "I could come in and play with Cat [Barber]. He's a great player... I actually played against him my senior year at Broughton so I know his game.

"Plus, being at home, that's another factor for them right there."

Graham admitted that a recent transfer impacted his feelings about the Wolfpack.

"Tyler Lewis leaving State, that definitely pushed them up my list," he said. "I don't really think I would even be considering them if Tyler was still there because they would still have two really good young point guards."

After Graham's NC State trip he is scheduled to officially visit Virginia on April 25th. The Cavaliers appear to be a major player as well.

"A lot like with State, I think I can play early at Virginia," he stated. "I think they have just one true point guard so the opportunity to play right away is there. Plus, they just won the ACC... they are a program that's on the rise."

While he hasn't set visits to Virginia Tech and Providence, they are under consideration mainly because Graham felt a connection with both head coaches.

"I like Virginia Tech and Providence. When the coaches came here, I got the feeling that coach Buzz and coach Cooley are two inspirational coaches. They both really impressed me."

"I don't know if I'll take all five [visits]," he added. "People say it can get tiring after a while, but I don't want to make another rushed decision that I will regret. I have to make the best decision. I won't get a third chance."

Graham knows exactly what he will be looking for on his trips.

"I want to see where I fit in best," he said. "That's going to be real key for me. I want to watch the players... see how I get along with them.

"I'm also looking for the opportunity to come in and play right away. I want to be able to trust the coaches, that's a big factor for me. I also want to go to a winning program and get exposure to where I can possibly play in the NBA."

Brewster Academy head coach Jason Smith raved about Graham this spring. Smith, who has coached college point guard standouts such as Semaj Christon and Naadir Tharpe, believes one school will be landing a gem in Graham.

"The kid was dynamite this year," Smith told's Evan Daniels last week. "I honestly think he can play anywhere. He's as good as any point guard we've ever had here.

"He was by far our most valuable player on the season. He runs a team, makes great decisions, shoots the balls and defends."

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