Monday, June 20, 2011

Former Jayhawk Jeff Graves has no plans to retire

Former Jayhawk Jeff Graves signs an autograph for a young fan at the Rock Chalk Roundball Classic on Thursday, June 16, 2011 at Free State High School.

Former Jayhawk Jeff Graves signs an autograph for a young fan at the Rock Chalk Roundball Classic on Thursday, June 16, 2011 at Free State High School.


Former Kansas University basketball power forward Jeff Graves — who has played for pay in Slovenia, Turkey and Croatia and in the NBA’s Developmental League but been idle the past two seasons — says he’s not ready to retire at the age of 29.

“Keep on watching TV. I’ll be there,” vowed Graves, a 6-foot-9, 270-pounder out of Lee’s Summit, Mo.

Graves — he played on KU’s 2003 Final Four team — is on the comeback trail after fully healing from the torn ACL he suffered while playing for the NBADL’s Idaho Stampede early in the 2009-10 season.

“Right now I’m trying to go to France, then from there try to get back to the NBA,” said Graves. He scored 18 points and grabbed a batch of rebounds in Thursday’s Rock Chalk Roundball Classic at Free State High.

“I work out a lot. That’s all I do,” added Graves, who also coaches AAU ball in the Kansas City area.

He received a thunderous ovation Thursday after ramming a vicious dunk early in the charity game consisting of former KU players, plus boxer Victor Ortiz.

“It felt like I was rejuvenated,” Graves said. “It seems like everybody was waiting for me to come back and see how I’m doing.”

Graves signed autographs for KU fans for a half hour following Thursday’s game. He never even made it to the official autograph table because fans mobbed him shortly after the final buzzer.

“It’s always good to come back and visit where you went to school. It’s so much of a Cloud Nine when you come here. Everybody makes you feel at home and makes you feel you never missed a beat,” Graves said.

Graves — he averaged 6.0 ppg and 6.8 rpg at KU in 2002-03 and 6.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg in 2003-04 — was asked why he’s not spotted more often in Lawrence.

“Just the commute between here and Lee’s Summit. I’ve got a daughter now. I’m enjoying being a father,” said Graves, who along with girlfriend Kristin, are proud parents of 2 1/2-year-old daughter Kori Anne.

“It definitely felt good to see the guys. Back in the day we were all playing together. It’s good to come back, get together and hear the stories.”

To relive one Graves story ... he scored 16 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in KU’s 81-78 loss to Syracuse in the 2003 NCAA finals.

Some say he would have been a legitimate contender for Final Four MVP had the Jayhawks upended the Orange for the crown. Of course, the overwhelming favorite would have been Nick Collison, who had 21 rebounds and 19 points in the final, not to mention Keith Langford, who scored 19 in the final and 23 in a 94-61 semifinal win over Marquette. Graves had nine boards and five points against the Golden Eagles to go with his 16/16 final.

“I don’t know. That’s up to everybody else,” Graves said with a smile, asked if he was KU’s MVP of the title game. “You could ask a lot of people and they would disagree.”


jaybate 10 years, 7 months ago

It is great to hear Graves is trying to get back on the wood. I always thought he was a remarkable and underrated player.

Stunning to recall his and Collison's numbers in that National Final. When two bigs put up 37 points and 35 rebounds, it is still hard to believe KU lost. They were a tremendous tandem in that game.

theend 10 years, 7 months ago

Free Throws, Jaybate.......Free Throws. Seems to me that time after time......when you look back at a lost comes down to something as absolutely simple as free throws.

baldwinjhawk 10 years, 7 months ago


100 10 years, 7 months ago

I'm the only Jayhawk fan or human associated with Jayhawk basketball in any shape or form that believes this (I believe)...

We lost the game because we didn't guard the three.

Yes free throws are important & we would have won if we hit a normal percentage.

But that's number three on the list, to me it's not by any means the overwhelming reason Syracuse beat us fair & square that Monday night.

Goes back to the old slogan...

"Defense Wins Championships".

Guard. The. Three. In bigtime games.

(it's the other team's only hope)

nuleafjhawk 10 years, 7 months ago

Well. For eight years now, I too have been on the "Another NCAA Championship Down The Drain Because Of The **** Missed Free Throws" bandwagon. But you make a pretty compelling argument for the whole defensive thing. If you're happy with your aloneness in your belief, I'll go ahead and stay with the free throw thing. But, if you'd like some company with the defense theory - count me in. Truth be told, they probably played about equal parts in that pathetic loss, but free throws are a lot easier to define on a stat sheet.

Michael Bratisax 10 years, 7 months ago

100, respectively disagree.. Orange only shot 47% Warrick held to only 6

3 reasons we lost in order of importance 12 - 30 free throws A Miles plays worst game in KU uniform Gerry McNamara hits 6 of teams 11 threes

Michael Bratisax 10 years, 7 months ago

Not sure I would guard Victor Ortiz very fact, he can shoot from anywhere he wants.

Brand Willis 10 years, 7 months ago

Graves was a monster at the roundball classic. he kept trying to hit a 3 but couldn't hit one. and then he hit one but it was after a foul was commited or some other whistle so it didn't count.

I would like to see him get some minutes on a team that could use him as a finisher in the paint as well as hustle up and down the court and play hardnose defense. not to mention he has a great motor as he proved in the national championship.

I still can't stand melo for that game. and as a result i hate the knicks even though i was a fan of stoudemire when he was with my man steve nash.

Huskerhawk 10 years, 7 months ago

I'd love to be able to blame Melo for that loss but the truth is that if Kansas had made even half of their freethrows they would have won.

Michael Pannacciulli 10 years, 7 months ago

I blame Gerry McNamara and all his dang 3's that game!

Theutus 10 years, 7 months ago

THIS! It drives me nuts that everyone credits Carmello with that win... Carmello didn't do anything we couldn't contain that game. McNamara though was another story, that kid had the fluke game of his life and couldn't miss from behind the arc... Between that and free-throws, we were doomed.

How many times have we lost games because we couldn't defend against a guy raining down three's? That's why i was so happy with the 08 team, they played incredible defense and took a lot of that away from teams...

kennethst 10 years, 7 months ago

Theutus! Always a pleasure,sir! Why do I always find peace and serenity when both Jaybate and Theutus post on the same day???

Well....yes.....2003 game was such a nightmare. Yes.....a good comeback.....but KU was out early. I was sure they would win after that beatdown vs Marquette. Ah well....part of the price you pay for being a devoted fan. The highest highs....the lowest lows.

I lke that quote.....something like you can't appreciate the view from the top of the mountain until you have walked in the valley.

SEKrep 10 years, 7 months ago

I dont know about McNamara having the fluke game of his life. He was an absolute stud in college and I was a real big fan of his. That Big East tournament run he had was absolutely amazing.

theend 10 years, 7 months ago

I too blame the free throws.....and they had to expend so much energy to come back and get in the game. It was a nice comeback......but not enough. It still hurts.

Michael Bratisax 10 years, 7 months ago

If we had made 50%, the game would have into OT.

nuleafjhawk 10 years, 7 months ago

Jeff Graves was one of my favorite Jayhawks. And one of my most frustrating Jayhawks! It was maddening to see him just play his heart out one game, and stand around the next game with that deer in the headlights look. (Great big deer!) But I was always rooting for him, he definitely had some ability and overall was a great asset for us. Good luck Jeff!

theend 10 years, 7 months ago

Frustrating is a good word.....because you knew he could be great if he wanted. Sometimes he was.....but as often not. I wish him well......he seemed like a good kid and nice guy.

Jeremy Bolinger 10 years, 7 months ago

ditto. Jeff Graves was the more intimidating than the Morris Twins could ever hope to be. Loved his tough guy demeanor. Guy was a beast down low

Jeremy Bolinger 10 years, 7 months ago

ditto. Jeff Graves was the more intimidating than the Morris Twins could ever hope to be. Loved his tough guy demeanor. Guy was a beast down low

yates33333 10 years, 7 months ago

Graves had some problems but he was a real find for KU as I recall. He had a great power forward body.

theend 10 years, 7 months ago

I always liked Jeff Graves,too. A nice guy and ,at times,a very dominant player. But I also felt that he just needed to get out of his own way. I hope he has learned from mistakes and does well. He has great potential.

The Syracuse game brings back a terrible memory. It somewhat reminds me of the 2008 UNC game but in the opposite sense. I really thought we would beat Syracuse in 2003. They made a nice comeback.....but were never really in the game. Well.....nothing to be done about it now.

theend 10 years, 7 months ago

Hey SD Surfer Clown......What? No trash-talking Kansas today? You're on a roll......why stop now?

ragingsquanto 10 years, 7 months ago

Completely unrelated, but a good belated recruiting update nonetheless:

Robert Robinson 10 years, 7 months ago

I was going to get on here and bash MU. Perhaps I will bite my tongue and make sure our players make the rest of the simmer without an arrest.

KGphoto 10 years, 7 months ago

Still rocking the rows! I wonder when he'll go to Carmelo's barber shop in Denver and get "The Melo". Very popular these days in the NBA Jeff. Think about it.

Jeff Coffman 10 years, 7 months ago

I must say it must be a slow day in the KUsports room today.

I love the update story about Graves and he was an exciting player, but it seemed you even stretched to come up with this story.

I like it when I come online and find 2-4 stories between football and basketball and then 1-3 stories on various other sports. Today one basketball story that was almost like....we don't have a sports section, better add something quick.

nuleafjhawk 10 years, 7 months ago

Napels - I respectfully disagree with your statement that the winning streak would still be intact had Jeff Graves been with us. Those kids had been up literally all night with Thomas and even 18, 19, 20 year olds get tired with no sleep whatsoever. I was not excited that we lost, but for that one day, it really didn't matter. It was a hit to the fans' pride, but other than that nothing negative came of it. I don't think we were going to win that particular game on that day, no matter who was in the lineup.

nuleafjhawk 10 years, 7 months ago

"THE STREAK" ended five months ago. I hope that you've slept during that time. Since there is no reason or excuse for the weaklings to have lost that game and ruined what must have been your crowning glory, I'll just say that It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

Take a deep breath, man. Although it was fun and a nice bragging point, it wasn't the end of the world. We'll start a new streak!

Make_Ur_Free_Throws 10 years, 7 months ago

Great story! Thanks for the memories of a great player and a great team!

Jeff, best of luck with the goal of returning to the NBA! Glad to hear you are still doing what you love to do! We all should be so lucky!

Rock Chalk!

onlylookin2score 10 years, 7 months ago

OMG! Jeff graves. The only play i can remember of his was probably the funniest in ku history. I belive he stole the ball and then rumbled his way 2 the goal. Jumped up for the biggest 1 handed tomahawk uve ever seen and proceeded 2 slam it so hard off the back iron that it flew outta the basket with such velocity and arch that it made it over 3/4 of the way back across the court... In the air. I must have rewound that junk like 30 times. The Best fail..

Lance Hobson 10 years, 7 months ago

It breaks my heart thinking about that '03 game, for many reasons. Graves was so close to pulling it out for us despite the horrible free throw shooting from everyone. I liked him as a player, he was tough and bruising, much different than the other types of players Roy usually recruited. I figured he knew he needed an enforcer and Graves was his guy.

jaybate 10 years, 7 months ago

One more thought about Jeff Graves: it is amazing what having a child can do to the focus of men.

It would be an incredible story, a fairy tale come true, almost Homeric stuff, if after a lot of knocking around and a knee injury, Jeff Graves suddenly found an even deeper well spring of focus and determination and willed himself up the ladder from rehab, to France, to NBA D-League, to a back-up spot on an NBA contender late in a season, to taking over late in the playoffs for an injured star, to playing the game of his life in a seventh game and helping a super star win a ring.

And what drove him was making something out of himself that his daughter could be proud of and getting her the money she needed to grow to have a better life than he had growing up.

It would be the basketball equivalent of Robert Redford's "The Natural" in baseball, only better...waaaay better, because basketball, not baseball, is the greatest game ever invented--the people's game.

It would be why we love sports and find them redeeming despite all of the egos and hype and media/gaming/merchandizing nexus that hangs over all sports.

Nothing is written, Jeff, nothing.

Rock chalk, man, go for it.

The Legacy is pulling for you!

kennethst 10 years, 7 months ago

Jaybate knows a lot about KU basketball......Jaybate knows even more about life. It's an honor to read your posts. Well done, sir.

litlmikeyb 10 years, 7 months ago

Just wanted to let all know, KU vs. USC game is on ESPNU right now. We can all re-watch the best game Selby ever played.

mandomax 10 years, 7 months ago

two things: 1) Jeff Graves is the most productive JuCo transfer KU has had in the past two decades. 2) Had Manning been coaching bigs for Roy, Graves goes NBA.

Dirk Andrews 10 years, 7 months ago

Always loved Jeff Graves' intensity and passion for the game. He was a bruiser down low who could take care of business. I remember when he joined the team, wondering what he would do. His contributions to that '03 team were huge.

Iowajhawker 10 years, 7 months ago

Always loved Jeff Graves' intensity. Watched him play his Juco ball @ Iowa Western in Council Bluffs.

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