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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Keegan

Column: KU newcomer Graham positive at point guard

Devonté Graham plays brings the ball up the court during a scrimmage at the Bill Self Basketball Camp, Wednesday, June 18, 2014, at the Horejsi Center.

Devonté Graham plays brings the ball up the court during a scrimmage at the Bill Self Basketball Camp, Wednesday, June 18, 2014, at the Horejsi Center.

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In some ways, the less you notice a point guard, the better he’s playing. It can mean he’s keeping the ball moving, getting it into the right hands at the right time, not monopolizing it.

I didn’t hear much about freshman point guard Devonté Graham’s play in last week’s Bill Self Camp exhibition game featuring past and present Kansas University basketball players, so I decided to take in the camp game Wednesday.

Camp games can devolve into breakaway dunk shows, entertaining for the campers, but pretty ugly to watch.

Not this one. It felt more like a basketball game, and it went into overtime. Graham had a view from the bench in the closing minutes and the two-minute overtime period, while veterans Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed formed the backcourt.

“Tyshawn (Taylor) told me I should have been in there at the end of the game,” Graham said with a smile.

Self introduced all of the players with a quick comment and said of Graham, “He’s going to play a ton this year.”

It’s easy to see why. Graham wasn’t the guy the campers left the Horejsi Center buzzing about, but he did a lot of productive things. As soon as he saw a scorer, he delivered him the ball. When he saw shots, he took them, and he never looked as if he was forcing anything.

The jump ball was tapped to Graham, and he quickly made something happen, sending a one-handed bounce pass to Kelly Oubre cutting down the left side of the lane for the game’s first bucket.

Graham fed Reed for a jumper and hit two three-pointers of his own. The first came when he was wide-open in the right corner, then next when he pulled up from 22 feet from beyond the right side of the key.

He said most of the feedback he has received from former Jayhawks and coaches centers on, “being a leader, being more vocal as a point guard. You have to communicate well with everybody else.”

Graham looked exactly like the type of guard he described when he was asked to give a self-scouting report.

“Point guard who can score and facilitates first, makes everyone around better,” he said.

Graham had a difficult time keeping sophomore Frank Mason in front of him, but so did everybody else.

“Aw, man, he’s crazy,” Graham said. “He’s super fast, and he’s starting to be able to shoot the outside shot, so it’s a tough job.”

Often, freshmen hesitate, grinding the entire team to a stop. Graham didn’t do that during his time on the floor Wednesday.

“Coach Self’s been telling us you pass, you shoot or you attack, and if I don’t have the other two options, I pass it,” Graham said. “I’ve been working on being more decisive. You’ve got to move fast. That’s the adjustment I need to make. ... I’m more comfortable this week than last week.”

Graham didn’t look quite as athletic as Mason and might not be quite the shooter Conner Frankamp is, but he looks like he belongs in the mix in the competition for playing time.

Comments

Ashwin Rao 4 years, 10 months ago

After reading these posts, I have a feeling that PG will not be a problem this year. We have enough skill-set to get dangerous!

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 10 months ago

Thanks for the rundown Keegan. You were proclaiming Frank Mason at this time last year, when most of us (including me) thought he was a red-shirt prospect. Turns out he was a major minutes rotation player from day 1. So I'll give you the benefit of the doubt this time around.

Robert Brock 4 years, 10 months ago

You can't play the point unless you can defend the opposing point. For now, Mason is the only guy on the roster who fits that description.

Ryan Michael 4 years, 10 months ago

I don't think Mason did a bad job at all with defense last year, that being said it was Connor playing the best defense pestering his man at the end of the season. It's not flashy, but he's persistent and kept to his man. His defense is a lot like his offense, it's not sportcenter top 10 highlights, it's just solid and hard work.

Credit where it's due, both Mason and Frankamp can be solid defenders the only thing holding either of them back is height/length.

Aaron Millsap 4 years, 10 months ago

It seems to me that we may have 3 solid, but not quite spectacular options at the 1. I know a lot of the national columnists have said that point guard play will be the difference between top 10 and top 4 this year, but in my mind, when you compare Conner and Frank's play last year to other frosh points of the past it appears they both are ahead of the curve. I know neither had near the hype and exposure coming in as my favorite point guard of the Self era, Sherronatron, but I think Frank played every bit as well as Sherron as a freshman and Conner came close. Had Conner been able to find his shot prior to the post-season, we'd be looking back on the fact that he had 3 turnovers his entire freshman year and saying how amazing his numbers were (I'm aware that a better 3 point percentage would have led to more minutes and turnovers but the ratios would hopefully still project out over more minutes). Backing away from Sherron, our two diminutive sophs each performed better than RussRob, JHawk, Naadir, EJ, and Mario (when he played point) during their respective freshman years, in my opinion. I'm rambling, but my overall point is that we have nothing to worry about and they're both going to be nice players assuming they continue develop and don't devolve, a la Naadir. I have no idea what Devonte brings to the table yet, but all reports seem to point to him being more or less on par with the other two as a prospect. My guess is one of the three ultimately ends up falling out of the rotation and we see a transfer by December 2015. Prediction: Frank wins the job, Devonte backs up, Conner moves to the 2 and plays about 10 minutes a game with an uptick against the zone.

Reggie Flenory 4 years, 10 months ago

I think peopleare still over looking frank mason at the point he may not be the biggest but hes dam quick, hes tough and he works his ass off

Ken Lassman 4 years, 10 months ago

Which staph--I mean staff came up with the cute headline? Tom? Were you listening to that good old metal band Anthrax?

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