Friday, June 6, 2014

Pundits praise KU freshman point guard Graham

In this file photo from Jan. 2, 2012, Broughton High junior Devonte' Graham (4) goes up for an acrobatic shot during the first half of a game against Enloe High in Raleigh, N.C.

In this file photo from Jan. 2, 2012, Broughton High junior Devonte' Graham (4) goes up for an acrobatic shot during the first half of a game against Enloe High in Raleigh, N.C.


ESPN’s Paul Biancardi recently ranked Kansas University point guard Devonté Graham No. 2 on a list of the “nation’s most important freshmen,” behind Indiana’s James Blackmon.

“With the departure of starting point guard Naadir Tharpe in April, the program had a huge void. That’s when Bill Self and his staff went back to Brewster Academy to fill their need. The irony is that Tharpe and Graham both played for Jason Smith at Brewster and were extremely successful,” Biancardi wrote. “Once Graham was released from his letter of intent to Appalachian State, Kansas and many other high-profile programs pursued this lead guard.

“He brings the balance between running a team and scoring, with the decision-making ability that Self needs to lead his team. Sophomore Conner Frankamp can be a steady influence on the ball, but his best asset is as a shooter. Frank Mason is at his strongest in the open court. However Graham offers the best of both worlds.”

As far as winning the starting job, Graham said Wednesday: “It’s always a battle. No spot is guaranteed, as coach has been telling us. It’s definitely available.”

The 6-foot-2 Graham, who averaged 17.2 points and 5.0 assists for 33-2 national prep school champion Brewster Academy last season, said he’s ready to work for minutes, starting this summer. He listed his immediate goals as, “Just to work hard every day, be in the gym, get better, get stronger and try to get ready for the season.”

Embiid has edge: KU coach Self was asked on the podcast of Andy Katz and Seth Greenberg if there’s a “little nasty” in possible No. 1 NBA Draft pick Joel Embiid.

“Oh, yes,” Self said. “When I went to watch him play pick-up with his high school team, The Rock, in Gainesville, Florida, there weren’t any 6-2 guys, let alone 6-10 guys. One guy hit Jo with an illegal screen. I thought he (7-footer Embiid) was going to run him out of the gym, chase him down. He couldn’t wait to get him back.

“This dude has got a little streak to him. When he got here, all you had to do is call him ‘soft’ once, and he’d make sure you don’t ever call him that again. I do think he has a chip, a nasty streak, one you can’t see really visibly from looking at him because of his smile and everything else. The guy does like to compete,” Self noted.

Stevens lauded by Self: Self may not be interested in NBA jobs right now, but he does like the fact college coaches like former Butler coach Brad Stevens are getting opportunities in the pros.

Stevens in 2014-15 will begin his second year with the Boston Celtics.

“I do think it’s still basketball, and I do think it’s still dealing with people, getting players as close to their ceiling as possible working for the same cause,” Self said on Katz’s podcast. “It’d be a challenge obviously in that league, but it’s a challenge at any level. I’m happy the Brad Stevenses of the world have gotten that opportunity. Hopefully he’ll have great success, which may open doors for other guys moving forward.

“The whole thing ... this is a pretty high level,” Self added of college. “You have so many guys whether it be (Mike) Krzyzewski, (Roy) Williams, (Jim) Calhoun or so many guys great at their trade ... you know they’ve had numerous opportunities to do this,” he added of coaching in the pros.

“They thought the biggest time was where they are at. That’s kind of how I feel. I’m not saying never. Certainly this is a pretty good situation. Being able to impact 18- to 22-year-old kids and hopefully prepare them for their dream, which is the next level, is a good challenge and pretty fun time doing that.”

Fans can breathe easier for now: It looks as if the Oklahoma City Thunder head-coaching job will not be open this offseason. Thunder general manager Sam Presti backed coach Scott Brooks on Thursday, saying he “did an excellent job” this past season.

“I understand, we all have a tendency to look at the last game, or the last series. I respect that. That’s part of sports,” Presti said on “I can’t do that. I’m looking at a body of work. I’m looking at an understanding of what drives our success and the way in which we’ve gotten to this point (losing in Western Conference finals). You have to look at yourself critically every year and that starts with me, that starts with everyone in the program, and I think Scott will do the same and come back a little bit better.”

If KU coach Self ever bolts to the NBA, it has been assumed it’d be to his home-state team, the Thunder, or the San Antonio Spurs, where former KU assistant coach R.C. Buford is general manager.

Classic update: Here are rosters for the sixth-annual Rock Chalk Roundball Classic, set for 7 p.m., June 12, at Lawrence High. Red team: Brennan Bechard, Danni Boatwright, Greg Dreiling, Jeff Hawkins, Ben McLemore, Sean Pearson, Todd Reesing, Tyrel Reed, Russell Robinson, Wayne Simien. Blue team: Cole Aldrich, Jeff Carey, Sherron Collins, Carolyn Davis, Jeff Graves, Mario Little, Brandon McAnderson, Brady Morningstar, Conner Teahan. Coaches are Max Falkenstien, Alonzo Jamison, David Lawrence, Roger Morningstar, Patrick Richey, Bud Stallworth, Billy Thomas and Calvin Thompson. For information, go to

NCAA won’t block settlement: The NCAA told on Wednesday that current college athletes would not lose eligibility by receiving money from a proposed $40 million lawsuit settlement related to the use of names, images and likeness of players in NCAA-branded video games. reports that more than 100,000 current and former football and men’s basketball players have potential claims to money, ranging from a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand dollars.


Scott MacWilliams 7 years, 6 months ago

"The NCAA told on Wednesday that current college athletes would not lose eligibility by receiving money from a proposed $40 million lawsuit settlement related to the use of names, images and likeness of players in NCAA-branded video games. " Uhmm, okay... so the NCAA used the players names, images, stats, uniform numbers, etc., etc., without their permission, and now is kind enough to let them keep their amateur eligibility?? What are those guys smoking??? Did I miss something here??

John Strayer 7 years, 6 months ago

With regard to the NCAA, I believe the permission is implied when the players agree to play in the sports and events sanctioned by the NCAA.

John Randall 7 years, 6 months ago

Confusing, whether the video game companies (who bought the "rights") or the NCAA (who sold the "rights") has to come up with the money for students who signed away the rights ???

"implied" is a word any number of lawyers could kick back and forth for a very long time.

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 6 months ago

The competition for PG is going to be intense. I suspect one of the guards will redshirt this year and suspect it will either be Mason or Graham.

Mick Allen 7 years, 6 months ago

Suzi it still surprises me that you have already handed the point guard spot to Conner. From a strength and physical maturity standpoint only, CF could be a candidate.

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 6 months ago

It surprises me also that I handed the PG spot to Connor. I've always have been a huge fan for Selden playing PG due to his natural leadership skills but realize his questionable handle last year. I just hope and pray that someone steps up to play the position in the manner required. I previously stated I suspected Frankamp would win the point mostly due to his shooting ability. However, that is really a whimsical and dum(b) statement since I know zilch about Graham and Svi.

Now that Rivals has given Svi a 5 star rating and given his size.....practices are going to be intense. I highly doubt this year's team will be soft.

Mark Lindrud 7 years, 6 months ago

I believe Connor might have the best chance to win the spot. He has been under control every time on the court and ran the offense the best overall last year at the point. I can't give the job to Graham and Mason who I do believe is very talented, but highly inconsistent does not have a shot, which I hope he is improving. I don't see anyone redshirting, but we still have time until we anoint anyone the starter.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 6 months ago

As I previously posted, I hope "somebody" wins the competition, that somebody clearly claims the starting spot. We need a leader to steer this Ferrari of a team. Leadership as well would be very very nice.

Erich Hartmann 7 years, 6 months ago

Good discussion/speculation on the PG battle. Graham = unknown at Div.1, but a typical combo/all-around guard, and is 6'2. Can he guard? Has ANY frosh ever ran the show for Bill Self (no, no, and no.) Chalmers failed. Sherron couldnt do it (he was change-up guy off bench). RussRob couldnt do it as a frosh. Tyshawn played the 2 his frosh year. EJ was shaky at it as a Sr.

Mason improved his shot selection, his 3%, and his a:t ratio as the season went on--but apparently, most KU fans missed the improvement. He drove into the trees and got into trouble in a couple of games early, and now that is the lasting image burned into the casual fan's brain... So irritating, these 1-line mental summaries that fans concoct, but then fail to update.

Connor Frankamp, god love him, showed us 1 trend (great a:t ratio) and 1 good game (hit 3 threes late in 1 game). He was given open look 3 attempts ALL season, and failed to hit. Try this slap in the face: Connor Teahan had a far better frosh season, where he was nothing but a dead-eye 3shooter, cold off the bench. Brannen Greene had a better 3% than Frankamp. Connor Frankamp was the worst 3% shooter on the team last season, yes, worse than Frank Mason (CF=25%, FM=28%). To their credit, both actually improved their 3% as the season went on, Mason steadily, and CF in that 1 game. And defensive toughness at 159.9999764456lbs, soppin' wet (I'm jokin'), worries me.

Point is it will be a PG battle, but too many unknowns to anoint anyone. Almost certainly, PG will be a 2-man committee...

Tony Bandle 7 years, 6 months ago


1] In response to the civil lawsuit brought by the college players against use of their images by major video games manufacturers, the NCAA will now sue all game manufacturers. The NCAA statement is." Only we can use these kids as pawns....we will make you pay for trying to make them your pawns!"

2] Actually, with the exception of Max, the coaches could be a decent third team themselves. Note, Ben will be playing with his hands cuffed and wearing lead weights on both ankles.

3] As long as there is an NBA, as long as there are teams in OK or TX, as long that Tyler will eventually use up his eligibility, as long as Bill Self is breathing..KU fans should never truly start breathing easier!

4] Let's play a game...match these names Coach Rat Face, Uncle Roy, Con-houn...with these descriptions..The Cheat, The Whiner, The Crier!!

5] Jo Jo's elbows showed us all that mean streak a long time ago!!

6] First of all, I am happy that Devonte got that 1/2" back. Secondly, gee, why don't you put a little pressure on the kid, Paul??? Thirdly, Uh...Mr. Biancardi..we already have Mac-A and future lottery pick at the Two..or didn't you notice?

7] In summary, Devonte's good, Jo Jo is mean, Bill needs a nickname, keep breathing but not too easy, always bet on Ben..even with cuffs and the weights and, finally, the NCAA has, does and always will,,,SUCK!!

John Fitzgerald 7 years, 6 months ago

The Thunder better win a few titles with their current coach ... I'm not ready for Self to leave just yet, or ever for that matter. I literally can't think of anyone that I'd rather coach the team. Maybe Larry Brown would come back? Or I could even see Danny Manning coming here after Self left. As for the pg situation, I couldn't even guess on who is the leading candidate at this point. All I know is whoever it is they better be consistent. Also, I'd be curious to know how tall Svi is with socks. Seems to be a few different articles with different heights for him. Watching his videos he doesn't seem to be that tall. I'd guess him to be 6'4 if anything.

And just a side thought. Could you imagine this shooting lineup?

PG Svi SG Frankamp SF Greene PF Ellis C Mickelson

All above average shooters and could make it RAIN! Anyways, RCJH!!

Jack Wilson 7 years, 6 months ago

Biancardi said: "Sophomore Conner Frankamp can be a steady influence on the ball, but his best asset is as a shooter. Frank Mason is at his strongest in the open court. However Graham offers the best of both worlds.”

This strikes me as ridiculous, unmitigated hype. The "best of both worlds"?

Let's see how the guy does in a D-1 college basketball game.

Tony Bandle 7 years, 6 months ago

Jack, I totally agree. Just wait till Devonte faces up with Conner and Frank in practice and gets a taste of elite Division 1 basketball from two sophomores who are battle-tested!!!

Reggie Flenory 7 years, 6 months ago

I like graham alot but imma HUGE conner francamp fan the way he stepped up in the tourney was grown man status

Joseph Bullock 7 years, 6 months ago

Graham will be the starting PG at K.U. this coming season (maybe not right off the bat, but he will be, when all is said, and done). He has the size and athleticism you need at the PG position, he is a pass first PG, but he can also get his own show off. He is big enough to defend the big PG's, and he is a very good defender. Of course, as was mentioned, he will have to prove he can do well at the D1 Level, but what freshman does not have to do that. I do, however, feel Connor and Frank, will be much better, with a year under their belts, so nothing is going to simply given, to Graham. I can't wait for BB to start, and already ordered my season tickets.

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