Devonté Graham gears up for graduation, combine: 'I'm trying to get in NBA shape'

By Gary Bedore gbedore@kcstar.com

Kansas senior Devonté Graham has an individual workout scheduled with the Chicago Bulls on Monday leading into the all-important NBA combine for 69 of the top 2018 draft prospects that starts Wednesday in the Windy City.

Before all that begins, however, the 6-foot-2 point guard from Raleigh, N.C., who has been training the past several weeks in Los Angeles, is taking care of some personal business in Lawrence and surrounding areas.

“I’m very excited,” first-team All-American Graham said of Friday afternoon’s Department of Communication Studies undergraduate recognition ceremony to be followed by Sunday’s KU commencement at Memorial Stadium. He’s graduating with a degree in Communication Studies.

“My mom and them just landed, actually. ... Grandmom, mom, granddad everybody are on their way here now. It’s just a special moment,” Graham said of graduating college.

Devonté's mom, Dewanna King, has been all over social media, indicating how proud she is of her son completing his coursework and attaining a degree in four years.

“It’s her birthday today,” Graham said Friday. “Mother’s Day (is Sunday), so you know it’s a big weekend. I’m graduating, which they always wanted me to do. I probably won’t cry. It’s really I’m doing it for them, at the same time myself, but more them. That’s a great birthday and Mother’s Day present.”

King told Graham she’ll make sure his graduation cap and tassel will be firmly attached to his head. He’s not planning on a haircut before Sunday.

“My mom said she will put bobby pins so I can put it on the top of my head,” Graham said. “We’re going to figure something out so we can put it on top of my head, man,” he added with a smile.

Graham will spend a good portion of the weekend with author Jason King, traveling to Prairie Village, Overland Park, Topeka and Lawrence to sign the book, “Beyond the Streak: Untold Stories from Kansas Basketball’s Unrivaled Big 12 Reign.”

“It’s my first time doing something like this,” Graham said. “Not a bad way to start (his pro career) with this book. Interacting with fans … They’ll get to see me do a couple signings around here. It’ll be great.”

After that, he’ll be spending his time trying to convince an NBA team to take him in the June 21 draft. Graham — he plans on individual workouts with 12 to 15 NBA squads — is projected to be a second-round selection.

“I’m just trying to get in the best shape as possible,” Graham said. “My trainer told me I came in pretty good shape. I’m trying to get in NBA shape. It’s a faster shot clock, more physical. You’ve got to be in better shape. I have to get stronger, quicker, tighten up things (like) my shot, little things like that with my feet. It’s a different game. They move fast, but also slower at the same time. I’m trying to adjust to all that.”

He’s spoken with former KU forward Wayne Simien, a former Miami Heat player, and former Brewster Academy teammate Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz about what to expect pre-draft.

“You’ve got to grind it out every day,” Graham said of advice given to him. “It’s not college any more. You are not representing a university. You are representing yourself. You have to figure how to take care of your body, do everything you need to do to make sure you are healthy and ready for these workouts and combine coming up.”

Graham said that no matter where he’s playing next season, he’ll be keeping track of the 2018-19 Jayhawks.

“I’ve got teammates who will be here. I just can’t wait to see those guys play,” he said. “The Lawsons (Dedric, K.J.) and Charlie (Moore), they sat out a whole year. It’s kind of like watching Malik (Newman) grow. He sat out a year and came back (and has declared for draft after sophomore season). I know they’ll be good. I'm just excited to see if they can get 15 straight (league titles).”


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