Z-Man: Two-Sport Star

Which would you rather have for the Tennessee Vols, a very strong, extremely athletic basketball player who can play four positions, or a 6-foot-5, 220-pound quarterback with a big arm and excellent mobility?

How about getting both in the same prospect?

That's exactly what Zach Graham of Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwanee, Ga., offers as a two-sport complete package with next level talent to excel on both the collegiate hardwood or gridiron.

His father, David Graham, who checks in at 6-6, 250, played a couple of seasons as a defensive lineman with the Seattle Seahawks and also in the USFL, after a college career at Florida A&M and Morehouse College. Zach could follow in his father's footsteps, but currently seems inclined to blaze his own trail on the hardwood.

"He's much faster than I was at his age," David Graham told Scout.com's Jeff Goodman. "He's not only faster than I was, but he's also stronger."

Z-Man's potent combination of size, strength and speed provides advantages on the court and poses match-up nightmares for opponents.

"I would say my advantage of height over some of the players that guard me," Zach explained when asked about the mismatches he presents. "And then when they try to switch and put a big man on me, I can go by him. But probably the strength that most people wouldn't think about is my passing ability."

His ability to pass the football has caught the attention of several SEC teams and produced offers from Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, three teams the Vols see on annual basis.

He has been offered basketball scholarships by those same three schools as well as Florida, Miami, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, Florida State and Tennessee. He is one of two basketball prospects in the Class of 2007 that the Vols are known to have offered to this point, and he is clearly an ideal fit for Bruce Pearl's full-throttle, take-no-prisoners system due to his outstanding versatility, tough defense and physical play.

As a freshman at Peachtree High School, Graham averaged 18 points and four boards per game. Last season he average 21 points and six rebounds a contest. However his coming out party was last summer at the Reebok ABCD Basketball Camp where he wowed scouts with his ability to get to the basket and play larger than his size. He also had an impressive summer showing in AAU ball with Georgia Hurricanes. His outstanding work ethic, disciplined demeanor and sterling 3.3 GPA make him a player in demand.

"What makes Zach special is his work ethic," said Sean Jones, Graham's AAU coach told Goodman. "He always makes eye contact, is well-mannered and very intelligent. He picks things up very quickly. He's versatile and can play four positions on the court and really create mismatches. He's got a great knack for getting to the free throw line and his outside shot is getting better."

Ball handling and perimeter shooting are areas Graham — who is often compared to Greg Tinch, another Georgia prospect the Vols pursued under Buzz Peterson — needs to improve. That shouldn't prove a problem given his uncommon dedication, appropriate priorities and lofty goals.

"Number one is the education," Graham said when discussing his criteria for choosing a school. "My goal is to win the NCAA championship. I also want to go somewhere that I can grow outside of basketball and somewhere that can develop my skills so that I can hopefully play at the next level."

Wherever he goes to college, it sounds like the Z-Man will bring his A-Game.


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