Graham Explains Switch to Rutgers

Tyree Graham was set to sign with Alabama-Birmingham, but at the last minute shifted to Rutgers. The guard from Brunswick Community College (Supply, N.C.) talked to about why he made the switch, whether his recruitment is truly over and what must happen before he can enroll at Rutgers. Also, Graham's juco coach gives a scouting report on the type of player Rutgers is getting.

Rutgers needed a scorer to replace Mike Rosario, who transferred to Florida, so in a move to add a scorer in the backcourt, Scarlet Knights first-year coach Mike Rice accepted a commitment from junior college guard Tyree Graham.

The 6-foot-1 Graham, who originally attended Texas Tech before transferring to Brunswick Community College (Supply, N.C.), made a last-minute switch from Alabama-Birmingham to Rutgers.

It was a move orchestrated by new Rutgers associate head coach David Cox, who has known Graham for a while from the recruiting circuit.

"I would not be a Rutgers Scarlet Knight if it was not for Dave,'' Graham said. "I've known Dave since I was 15 years old. Dave is one of those guys that when he saw younger players, he'd talk to you and say, ‘look, you've got a chance to be such and such.'

"It's funny that he will be coaching me next year, and I'll probably get the same speech I got when was 15.''

Not only does Rutgers need bodies, but also needs scorers. According to Walter Shaw, Graham's coach at Brunswick CC, Rutgers is getting one.

Graham set a school record with 41 points in a game against Clinton Junior College last season, and despite battling a hamstring and then a knee injury during the season, he averaged 17.4 points per game. He also shot 44 percent from 3-point range.

"He's a scorer. That he can do,'' Shaw said. "He had 41 in a game. That's in a game we were down 15 at the half and he scored 41 points in 27 minutes …off the bench. We weren't going to play him (because of injury) until we got down.''

Graham's enrollment at Rutgers isn't a given, though. He will earn his associate's degree this month, but must complete a math class in the first summer session, which begins in a few weeks, to gain admittance to Rutgers.

"It's a math class, but my godmother is a math teacher, so there's no reason to panic or nothing like that,'' Graham said. "Rutgers fans need to understand I will be at Rutgers at the end of June, early July.''

Another thing that could add intrigue to the next month is Graham's decision not to sign a binding national letter of intent. That deadline passed Wednesday, when UAB believed he was still heading there.

Now, Graham will sign scholarship/financial aid papers in the next few days, which binds Rutgers to the player, but allows the player to back out of a commitment and attend another school. His commitment to Rutgers will not become binding until he attends his first class. And within hours of Graham tweeting he was heading to Rutgers instead of UAB, he said Auburn and Alabama called to gauge his interest in those schools.

"It's funny,'' Graham said. "Since I tweeted I was going to Rutgers, I've had some other calls come in because they want to get in, too. I'm like, ‘Wow.'

"I'm going to do scholarship papers and they should be here sometime today. "I'm committed. I'm not even looking at any other situation. I'm not answering the phone for anybody else. I'm a Scarlet Knight. This recruitment is over. It's done.''

Graham said the reason he backed out on UAB is assistant coach Wes Flanigan left for an assistant's job at Nebraska.

"They understood I had to do what was best for me,'' Graham said. "He left, and I felt like Rutgers was the best for me. The guy recruiting me is gone, and that changed a lot.''

Graham said he left Texas Tech to be closer to home after his mom underwent open heart surgery.

"I still have a lot of good friends at Texas Tech,'' said Graham, who averaged 3.9 points in 13 games. "I talk to 20 people a day from there. I just needed to be closer to home.''

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