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Sunday, April 1, 2018

Keegan

Tom Keegan: Graham will be missed even more than he misses it

Kansas head coach Bill Self puts his arm around a tearful Devonte' Graham (4) as Graham checks out of the game with seconds remaining, Saturday, March 31, 2018 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

Kansas head coach Bill Self puts his arm around a tearful Devonte' Graham (4) as Graham checks out of the game with seconds remaining, Saturday, March 31, 2018 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

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San Antonio — Kansas guard Devonte’ Graham could have gone on so long as to miss the team flight home when asked after a national-semifinal loss to Villanova what he’ll miss about playing basketball for Kansas.

“Everything,” Graham said. “I can't say just one thing. The coaching staff, all the friends you make and the fan base is amazing. And just waking up in our dorm and being able to walk over to the fieldhouse and shooting and practices. Man, just everything I'm going to miss, for real.”

He’ll be missed by fans, teammates, coaches, fellow students, even more than he’ll miss it.

No matter how talented the opponent, how big the moment, Graham never shrunk from the weight of the challenge. He didn’t allow anything to crush his irrepressible will to win and passion for the game.

If ever there were a night to let the surroundings douse his competitive spirit, Saturday was it in a 95-79 loss to Villanova in the Alamodome, in which Kansas fell behind 22-4.

Graham never stopped believing. When ball movement was stagnant, he took it upon himself to create shots and in his final game finished with a team-high 23 points and made 4 of 8 3-point shots.

Graham played in 15 NCAA tournament games during his four-year KU career, winning 11. As a three-year starter, he went 10-3, made it to two Elite Eights and a Final Four.

Despite being limited to three points, all from the free-throw line, in an Elite Eight loss to Oregon in his junior season, Graham averaged 13.8 points in 15 NCAA tourney games. He shot .474 from 3-point range and .807 from the line, a nod to his clutch nature.

In recent years, the standards for having a banner hung in the rafters of Allen Fieldhouse have softened some, but Graham would qualify in any era, thanks to earning first-team, consensus All-American honors as a senior.

The lone senior on the first team, Graham joins Villanova junior Jalen Brunson and a trio of freshmen: Oklahoma’s Trae Young, Marvin Bagley III of Duke and Arizona’s Deandre Ayton.

It's time for all five players to play for pay.

Comments

Bryce Landon 3 months, 2 weeks ago

There are some players I will miss more than others, and Devonte Graham is one of those players for sure. He left it all out there every single night in his senior year, and if he wasn't scoring, he was impacting the game in other ways. Whoever takes his spot at PG - and correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that would be Quentin Grimes? - will have some humongous shoes to follow.

Jay Scott 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Who played the point in the few minutes Graham sat? Marcus Garrett. That's a clue.

Marius Rowlanski 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Unfortunately, his play didn't do any favors. You don't need to be a great scorer to be successful at the PG but you have to make the easy shots.

The next great KU backcourt will feature Dotson and Grimes.

Jay Scott 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Player A as a KU frosh - .286 3Pt% - .412 Overall shooting %

Player A as a KU senior - .318 3Pt% - .424 Overall Shooting %

Marcus Garrett as a frosh - .267 3Pt% - .456 Overall

Player A?

Marius Rowlanski 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Player A ends up in Europe playing for Lithuania.

Len Shaffer 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Maybe, but you can't underestimate his defense and we know how much Self puts a premium on that. He's also very good at slashing to the basket. If he can show some improvement on 3-pointers, he could be very good next year.

Gerry Butler 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Grimes won't be playing the point , he will be the 2 guard - Devon will be the point

Bryce Landon 3 months, 2 weeks ago

My bad, I lost track of who was who for next year. Thanks, Chris and Gerry, for setting me straight.

Jim Stauffer 3 months, 2 weeks ago

I will always remember the quiet way in which both Frank and Devonte faced the pressure of leading their team. Completely different personalities but the same fearless dedication to the task without being intimidated by the opponent, scoreboard or the expectations of the fan base or even fans at large. They continued to do their job. How this young man could be so imperturbable under the pressure of leading a less talented team at KU, a legendary program, against great odds has been the most impressive to me. His freshman year, my wife decided she would love to adopt this kid. She is a basketball fan, not an analyst or expert, but she saw in him the qualities he demonstrated from day one. She and I will always love Devonte, regardless of what anyone may say about the teams he led. We are KU through and through, but beyond that, Devonte lovers. It is becoming so rare to be allowed to enjoy the kids for a full 4 years, it makes these years with Devonte very very special. Thank you Devonte, for a wonderful 4 years.

Jay Scott 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Marcus Garrett is a PG. He was recruited as a PG. He played PG in high school. He's proven that he gets the offense, can defend at an elite level and values the ball. Charlie Moore has to have picked up on at least some of the same in his year in Lawrence. Anyone who thinks Dotson is going to come in and start at the point as a freshman hasn't been paying attention to 15 years of Bill Self at Kansas.

Joe Joseph 3 months, 2 weeks ago

It hasn't happened often, but there is precedent. Tyshawn Taylor was the starting PG from day one, if I'm not mistaken.

I won't be shocked one way or another. Whether it's Garrett, Moore or Dotson. And chances are, it will be a combo effort with two of those three on the court at the same time.

I suppose it doesn't really matter either, as Self will give PT to whomever deserves it the most.

Jay Scott 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Tyshawn was a frosh in 2008-2009. Sherron Collins was the PG that year and the next . Taylor didn't take the lead role until his JR season.

Joe Joseph 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Correct - you are right. However, he did start his freshman year and take his turn at playing the point. I think that counts for something.

Tom Jones 3 months, 2 weeks ago

It's a silly point to make. How many times during Self's tenure has a freshman point guard who is ready to start to Kansas also happened to show up in a year where there wasn't already an established point guard? Unitl 2018-19...once? So what? That's a good thing.

Dotson will start at PG next year. Perhaps not from day one, but...who cares?

Garrett will still wind up being a valuable player as an upperclassman if he sticks it out, and I believe he will.

Joe Joseph 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Wayne Simien, Sherron Collins, Tyshawn Taylor, Perry Ellis, Frank Mason, Devonte Graham... How will Kansas move on after these seniors graduate the program?

It's amazing how we ask ourselves this same question, as fans, after these impact-players graduate. And yet, Bill Self & co. find a way to practically make you forget about them by conference season of the following year.

Jonathan Allison 3 months, 2 weeks ago

It's always interesting to see how quickly the freshman develop/buy-in, and we will have at least 4 freshman next year. But I am at least equally, if not more so interested in how well this seasons practice squad of Dedric Lawson, KJ Lawson, Charlie Moore, Sam Cunliffe buy-in and progress in the program as I am in our highly rated freshman class.

One would naturally assume that these guys have a head start because they've been around the team and been in practice and been in film sessions etc all year.

That said, everything changes when the guys actually start playing in games that matter. When the spotlight is on them will they perform the way that Bill Self wants them to? Are they willing to sacrifice their personal ambitions for the good of the team (if they have to)? Will they thrive under the pressure of expectations to win the league and play deep into March, or will they wilt?

We have come to expect some growing pains with many of the 5-star freshman. Will the transfers be able to provide at least a flavor of the continuity that has been Kansas' hallmark for decades? Will they take up the flag? Carry the torch? Continue the tradition passed down from Collison and Hinrich to Simien to Russ Rob and Mario, to Sherron, to Tyshawn and the twins and TRob, to Elijah and Withey to Perry Ellis, Wayne Selden, and Frank, to Devonte and Svi, and the many other players who fought and bled for the Crimson and Blue?

All of these guys were three and four year players, and they are the ones who have left the most lasting impacts on the tradition at KU. Nothing against the OADs. Most of them came in and played hard and did what was asked of them, contributed to some great seasons, and continued the streak... Their impact is not lost on Jayhawk Nation, but their legacies all left so many unanswered questions. What if he'd come back? How good could he be as a sophomore? Imagine having Gooden back in 2003? What if Selby came back and played with the national runner-ups in 2012? How far could we have gone if Embiid weren't injured for the NCAA tourney? What if Wiggins played with Frank instead of Tharpe?

The guys who change a program are the guys who allow a program to change them. Next year's team is full transfers and freshman. The key to success is whether the players can become a single unit rather than a collection of individual talent. The transfer players and returnees are eye-witnesses of how it happens. Are they ready to do everything that it takes to make it happen again?

Marcus Balzer 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Marcus Garrett has a bright future ahead of him but I can't have my starting PG shooting less than 50% from the FT and even worse from 3. I hope that MG takes the FM3, Dtae, and Newman route and locks himself in the gym this off season.

Jay Scott 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Your PG can't shoot "even worse" than 50% from 3? Pete Maravich might be your only option....

Marius Rowlanski 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Garrett still needs to shoot the ball well above 50% from the line as a starting PG. Devante led the team in free-throw attempts with 202 at 82.7% just like Mason did the year before. Even Tharpe led the team in free-throw percentage his final year at 82%.

At 49% and you're more of a liability than a point guard. Imagine Udoka and Garrett playing at the same time – you're going to see a lot of free-throw attempts but not so many made.

Free-throw shooting is an art that can be taught so I am not saying never but a few plays well after the game was decided really isn't that much to hang your hat on.

Tony Bandle 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Devon Dotson will be the starting point guard, at the earliest, midpoint next season. His ball handling ability and distribution skills are "Trae Young like" without the ego and me first attitude. Marcus will be the back up and playing time will be depend on offensive improvement. Remember Bill loves playing two point guards.

Personally, with Charlie Moore and Dotson on board, I would be tempted to red shirt Marcus. Especially if, as expected, Malik declares for the draft and Langford comes to KU. For the same reason that DOK, De Sousa, McCormack and Lawson will be available for the front line, I would also be tempted to red shirt Mitch as well.

Tony Bandle 3 months, 2 weeks ago

PS Probably red shirt the KC kid also. That would still give Bill 10 high quality players which would work since he rarely plays more than 9. Injury and ineligibility issues can change everything, of course.

David Pointer 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Is Langord expected to come to KU, I thought I had read somewhere that he was leaning towards Vanderbilt? It does make sense, maybe he is waiting to announce to see who leaves.

Jay Scott 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Devon Dotson is ranked 16 spots lower than the highest Rivals ranked PG ever to sign at Kansas. (19 lower on ESPN 100) Can he be guaranteed the same dominance?

Andy Tweedy 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Who was the highest ranked PG to come to KU? Vaughn?

Joe Joseph 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Josh Selby.

Jay forgot to use the sarcasm font.

Andy Tweedy 3 months, 2 weeks ago

oh man, I forgot about him, maybe cuz his time at KU was so easy to forget

Kit Duncan 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Charlie Moore has a high probability of starting at PG next season. He started every game as a freshman at CAL in 2016-2017, averaging 12.2 pts and 3.5 ast per game. Pretty decent numbers for a freshman not named Trae Young!

Jay Scott 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Moore had almost as many TO's as assists. Worse than Young... He shot 35% from 3.. Young shot 36%. Neither numbers are exceptional. Moore will have to defend a lot better than Young to play for Self. He's had a year to work on that.

Mike Greer 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Regardless of who ends up as next year's point guard, there are still some really big shoes to fill. Granted Garrett picked up the duty when Devonte was out, there weren't really any other choices. Also, Newman and Svi brought the ball up court a number of times as did Vick occasionally.

I would certainly want my point guard to be an 80+% free throw shooter, that would take the ball out of Garrett's hands for sure. Unless he improves over the summer.

Bryce Landon 3 months, 2 weeks ago

One more thing to think about - How different would this season have been if Nadir Tharpe hadn't been forced off the team for going to a drunken party and being photographed with a topless woman four years ago, and had his spot on the roster filled by Devonte Graham?

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