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Friday, June 22, 2018

Keegan

Tom Keegan: Nice guys don’t always finish last

Kansas guards Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) and Devonte' Graham (4) make conversation during the second half, Friday, Nov. 18, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guards Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) and Devonte' Graham (4) make conversation during the second half, Friday, Nov. 18, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Sometimes good things really do happen to good people.

Devonte’ Graham, a grounded, friendly sort who didn’t allow the gathering fame he experienced in four years at Kansas change him, decided to come back for his senior year of college to give himself a better shot at getting drafted.

It worked. He proved he’s ideally suited to point guard, something he couldn’t show with the ball in Frank Mason’s hands most of the time.

Graham improved his draft stock and as a nice little bonus led his team to the Final Four and earned first-team All-American honors.

Sometimes good things even happen to two different good people in the same night.

It’s no accident that Svi Mykhailiuk and Devonte’ Graham are about as close as any teammates not named Morris who Bill Self has coached at Kansas.

Svi was 16, didn’t know much English when he arrived at Kansas, and needed a friend. Graham made sure he had one right away and like Graham, Svi never grew a big head during his four seasons of increasing success at Kansas.

Now Svi’s a member of Hollywood’s favorite sports franchise, the Los Angeles Lakers. His contract isn’t guaranteed, but he shouldn’t have any trouble making the roster and with one exceptional skill, his long-range shooting, he has a shot at a long career as a marksman off the bench.

Graham has a chance to develop quickly into Kemba Walker’s primary backup. He does one thing much better than Walker’s main backup a year ago. Michael Carter-Williams has four inches on Graham, but is nowhere near the shooter.

Graham was at the back end of a rapid-fire run on experienced college point guards early in the second round. Villanova’s Jalen Brunson went with the 32nd pick, West Virginia’s Jevon Carter with the 33rd and Graham with the 34th. Graham played against both of them multiple times during his career, as well as against several other players drafted.

He tended to fare well against tough competition.

In case it wasn’t obvious what a terrific team it was that Kansas edged in overtime to advance to the Final Four, Thursday night’s NBA draft drove home the point.

Three Blue Devils were taken in the draft well before Graham went off the board and three picks after Graham, another Duke player was scooped up. Freshman Gary Trent Jr. went to the Sacramento Kings.

By the way, what is it with Kansas guards and the 34th overall selection anyway? That’s where Mario Chalmers went in the 2008 draft and where Frank Mason went in last season’s draft.

Comments

Danny Hernandez 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Grayson Allen selected at #20 is a head scratcher to me. Call me shocked. I had him at #32-37. He's a so-so defender and not very good at creating opportunities for anyone but himself. Of course he's 6'5" and has a decent shot but Malik definitely outplayed him when they went head to head. And a Senior taken that high!

Doug Longstaff 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Allen at that slot to Utah felt like one Dukie (Quin) wanting a piece of Coach K's pipeline. I can't imagine anyone else taking him at 20.

Gary McCullough 5 months, 3 weeks ago

How can you trust him to put the team's success before his own ego?

Harlan Hobbs 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Devonte will still be collecting NBA paychecks long after Allen is through.

Len Shaffer 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Well said, Tom. As much as I hate to root for the Lakers, as long as Svi is there I'll have to, at least when he's on the floor.

Dirk Medema 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Carter went before Brunson. That's another headscratcher to me. Not much difference in order but a mirror imo.

Mike Greer 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Grayson Allen flies in the face of the article title. Drafted pretty high for a cheater. Cheater was the nicest word I could come up with in his case.

Kenneth Johnson 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Devonte Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk weren’t selected until the second round (34th and 47th) of the NBA draft, while Malik Newman and Billy Preston weren’t even picked? So why didn’t the NBA give more credit to the 4 Jayhawkers in the draft?

While the first rounders get all the notoriety, it was great to see the Lakers give some kudos to Svi, saying they expect him to be a part of their rotation. He should have been a first-rounder, and I expect he will have a career similar to Kyle Korver. But I certainly don’t understand why OU’s Trea Young was the 5th pick while Devonte (who won the Big 12 MVP title) came in as the 34th pick. They are the same size, 6’2, so that couldn’t have been the reason. Might have been scoring, as Young scored 27.4 ppg this past season, while Graham scored 17.3ppg. But Graham was the point guard for KU, while Young was the Sooners shooting guard, so should have had a higher scoring average. The only other reason could be that the NBA selected Young higher based on ‘potential’. While Graham proved over four seasons he could get the job done, at both point and shooting guard, Young was a flash in the pan in his only collegiate season. I’m biased, as a KU fan, but I bet that Graham will end up having a better career than Young.

While disappointed at not being drafted, that will likely benefit Newman and Preston, as they can now, as free agents, seek to go with the team where they best fit.

Kenn Johnson (KU MS '70)

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