Class of 2021 forward James Graham breaks down Top Nine, plans to commit 'soon' | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Sunday / July 14.
  • Class of 2021 forward James Graham breaks down Top Nine, plans to commit ‘soon’

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    By JACOB POLACHECK

    James Graham III, the 6-foot-8, 205-pound Class of 2021 small forward from Nicolet (WI) High School, broke down his top nine schools for ZAGSBLOG Thursday by phone.

    “I’m happy with my list,” Graham said. “It was tough making the calls to the other coaches, but I’m happy with my list and I think all nine schools would make a good fit.”

    Graham recently named a top nine of Auburn, Maryland, Florida State, Memphis, Georgetown, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Marquette, and Vanderbilt.

    Auburn: “I like Auburn because coach [Bruce] Pearl has a lot of ties to a lot of people from Milwaukee. He recruited my high school coach so I never would’ve heard the end of it if I cut them. He likes tough, shot makers and I make some tough shots. I know he doesn’t have an issue with me taking those types of shots, as long as I give my all on defense. That’s what I like about coach Pearl and all of them.”

    Maryland: “Maryland stressed to me building a brand and I like that. I didn’t even think about it, but the year I go to college will be the year that players can make money off their brand and likeness. Maryland brought that up and stressed about how they can help me build my brand. It’s also a good fit.”

    Florida State: “Coach [Leonard] Hamilton puts a guy in my position in the NBA every year. You’ve got to keep them on there with my aspiration of getting to the league.”

    Michigan State: “Kind of like Florida State, they’ve put guys in my position in the NBA. [Coach Tom Izzo] and coach Hamilton are good coaches. Coach Izzo is, in my opinion, a top-five coach of all-time. I appreciate how he coaches the game. He coaches you hard and gets you better. They develop players really well and have taken the time to show that they want me to be there.”

    Graham also included three schools with former NBA stars as head coaches in Georgetown, Memphis and Vanderbilt.

    “You can group Georgetown, Memphis and Vanderbilt together,” Graham said. “You’ve got [Patrick] Ewing, [Jerry] Stackhouse and Penny Hardaway. Those three dudes have been there. They’ve done it and know what it takes to get to the NBA.

    “They all coach like that, with an NBA style on both ends of the floor. For those three, that’s what I appreciate. Ewing and Hardaway are Hall-of-Famers and Stack is borderline, so they’ve all done what it takes and have the accolades to show for it.”

    Graham also broke down both in-state schools in Marquette and Wisconsin.

    “I like Wisconsin a lot, same with Marquette because they’re close to home,” he said. Wisconsin is two hours and Marquette is 10 minutes away so its the fact that if I have a bad game, I can go to my own house, talk to my parents and have my support system in my backyard.

    “Also, the perks of going to a hometown school. Everybody will know your name and the fame that comes with it. That’s something I look at, as well as them being good fits offensively and defensively.”

    Graham has also had multiple phone calls with both North Carolina and Kentucky within the last two weeks.

    “They’re both saying the same thing,” he said. “The want to continue to get to know me.”

    Graham says he’s planning on cutting his list to three in the near future and commit ‘soon’.

    “Especially with the wave of commitments going around right now, I feel like there’s need to let the spots I want get taken up,” he said.

    Out of his remaining schools, Graham has taken visits to Wisconsin and Marquette.

    “I don’t know how that’ll work out,” Graham said in terms of visits. “I want to commit sometime in August or September. If I can visit by then, which I doubt, I’ll go on a visit or two. If not, I’ll just take my commitment and go on a visit as a commit.”

    According to 247Sports.com, Graham is ranked as the No. 9 small forward and No. 56 overall player in the Class of 2021.

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