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Friday, May 2, 2014
Devonte Graham commits to Kansas

By Jeff Goodman
ESPN.com

Kansas moved quickly to replace starting point guard Naadir Tharpe, receiving a commitment from Devonte Graham

The Jayhawks announced a day earlier that Tharpe would transfer.

"I think that was part of it," Graham told ESPN on Friday, a few hours before the Jayhawks announced his commitment. "He was a big part of their program and played a lot. If he had stayed, I'm not sure if I would be going to Kansas."

Graham, from Raleigh, N.C., chose the Jayhawks over NC State and Virginia. He had signed with Appalachian State in September 2012, but when he wanted to be released from the letter of intent, the school refused, and he was not allowed to talk with other coaches while on a post-graduate year at Brewster Academy this past season.

The previous staff at Appalachian State, led by former coach Jason Capel, believed NC State tampered with Graham while he was signed. Graham played on the same high school team as NC State coach Mark Gottfried's son. New Appalachian State coach Jim Fox released Graham from the commitment in early April, and Graham became highly sought by several high-major schools.

"It's kind of crazy to go from Appalachian State to Kansas," he said.

The 6-foot, 165-pound Graham will have a chance to compete with sophomores Frank Mason and Conner Frankamp for the starting point guard spot next season.

"We've had our fair share of guys from Brewster over the years, primarily Naadir and Thomas (Robinson)," Kansas coach Bill Self said in a statement. "We're very familiar with that program. We certainly solidified our situation in the backcourt by bringing in a quality guy and I think Devonte is one of the premier point guards in the country."

"I hit it off with the coaching staff and the players," Graham said. "I could see myself fitting into their style of play."

The Jayhawks will return starters Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden Jr. and will add two of the top freshmen in the nation in big man Cliff Alexander and wing Kelly Oubre. Graham said he's looking forward to playing with an abundance of talent.

"I'm someone who can run a team and also can score," he said, "but I look to get everyone involved and try and be a leader as a point guard."

Said Self: "I think Devonte will be an immediate impact guy for us," Self said in his statement. "That's not to take away from the other guards we have but this is a situation that we just got a lot better."