One day after it was announced that Naadir Tharpe would be transferring, Kansas landed an important point guard recruit as Devonte Graham verbally committed to attend the Big 12 school. One of the best remaining prospects in the 2014 class, Graham picked Kansas over NC State.
Graham’s path to college was an interesting one, as at one time he was a Appalachian State commit and even signed a National Letter of Intent. However Graham had a change of heart, but the process went on far longer than he would have hoped as Jason Capel’s program refused to release Graham from the NLI. Capel was relieved of his duties at the end of the 2013-14 season, and ultimately new head coach Jim Fox made the decision to grant Graham the release he sought.
Graham’s decision to join Bill Self’s program is an important addition given the Jayhawks’ depth at the point guard position. Frank Mason and Conner Frankamp are the returnees at the position, with the former being one of Kansas’ first players off the bench in 2013-14.
Kansas won’t have the most experienced backcourt next season, but the addition of Graham makes the Jayhawks a deeper team while also improving the level of talent at the position. Graham becomes the third member of Kansas’ 2014 recruiting class, joining McDonald’s All-Americans Kelly Oubre and Cliff Alexander.
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.
For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the NBCSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year.
On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.
Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.
Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.
In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.
As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.
(More to come from Chapel Hill…)
North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.
(H/T: The Cauldron)