February 4, 2012

Afraid of the Graham

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting — Chas @ 8:55 am

No not Fraud Graham. I’m talking basketball recruiting and one Torian Graham.

With Khem Birch gone, Pitt has an extra scholarship available. It hasn’t been clear whether Pitt was going to use it or bank it. Assuming that Steven Adams is one-and-done, Pitt has 3 scholarships for next year. The sense I have gotten from rumors, reports and such; is that Coach Jamie Dixon is seeing if he can get a very talented player or JUCO. He won’t, however, take a flyer on someone just because he has the scholarship available.

Some of the names that have been popping up are kids like Sheldon Jeter, Jakarr Sampson is getting attention, and Andrew Young (JUCO) for 2012. Dixon has obviously been looking at kids for 2013 (Stanford Robinson and Kris Jenkins), as well, but let’s stick to the present class.

According Adam Zagoria, Pitt is among the most persistent suitors for one Torian Graham.

According to his guardian, Craig Wilson, four schools are working hardest on the 6-foot-4 wing: N.C. State, Xavier, Pittsburgh and Oregon.

“Everything is still wide open right now, everybody’s still calling,” Wilson told Thursday by phone.

Graham is a 4-star, top-100, 6-4 shooting guard.



He’s also loaded with baggage and question marks.

He has committed and decommitted to NC State — TWICE.

Class of 2012 shooting guard Torian Graham committed to North Carolina State last Thursday after de-committing from the Wolfpack in August. Then, just hours later, he de-committed from head coach Mark Gottfried and company for the second time in just four months. Graham has been quiet in terms of explaining why he walked away from the Wolfpack again but there has been speculation ranging from he potentially may not qualify to everyone in his family isn’t fully behind his decision.

The issues of interference with what he wants by those around him and grades is persistent. He is more than a little adrift with the recent passing of his mother.

Based on information from people with knowledge of the situation, it appears that Graham actually decommitted against his own wishes.

Sadly, his mother passed away earlier this year, and the prospect of playing for the Wolfpack excites Graham more than some of the influential people in his life, people who believe he’d fit better somewhere else, possibly at a higher-profile program. There’s also talk that N.C. State won’t accept a commitment from Graham until he makes a qualifying test score.

So there are grades, interfering adults, lack of family. Anything else? Yes. How about a history of jumping schools.

Torian Graham has attended Durham Hillside, Raleigh Word of God, Chapel Hill’s PACE Academy and Arlington (Fla.) Country Day. He is expected to finish the season at Creedmoor Christian Faith Center.

That’s 5 schools in 4 years.

By all accounts he is a good kid. His talent and potential are not in doubt. Having said that, there is a lot of baggage. This is the kind of kid that could do amazing things or leave a crater. There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground.

When you factor in what just happened with Khem Birch, it seems less likely. But even without that in the equation, I don’t see how Pitt can take this kind of chance.


The old adage..

Fool me once, shame on you!
Fool me twice, shame on ME !

You want the best for this kid, but I think we’ve had enough “drama” to last a season or two..

Comment by CompLit 02.04.12 @ 9:15 am

There’s one reason I do think this makes sense: we need help everywhere on the court, and are already adding one highly-regarded big man and one highly-regarded PG. Add a highly-regarded wing player to that mix, and you have a three-headed monster much like Blair-Young-Fields. The experience isn’t there, but I would say the talent has to be at least pretty close to those three. If we get him and he leaves, we’re in the same position as if we hadn’t picked him u at all: three scholarships for 2013.

Comment by pittbaster 02.04.12 @ 9:24 am

The second time he decommitted from nc state was because of grades. Its not like hes a criminal or anything. Id love to add this kid, BUT the abdrew young, juco from cali, would be my top priority if jamie wants to go that route. Hes 6’9″ 240 and averages 20 points 20 rebounds and a few blocks per game. Those numbers arent errors, he averages 20 rebounds per game. Hed be my priority for a number of reasons. One, hes the kind of center who will dominate the glass and be physical in the post. Plus, itd take a TON of pressure off of steven adams that he’ll likely have if taylor or zanna dont step up. Also, thatd probably mean adams is at pitt for more than a year

Comment by Pk 02.04.12 @ 9:33 am

Btw, the 20 pts and 20 rbs are junior college highs in the entire state of california.

Comment by Pk 02.04.12 @ 9:35 am

I’m with Pk on this.

Comment by TX Panther 02.04.12 @ 9:51 am

If Graham is having difficulty obtaining the grades for NC State how the $%&# is he going to survive in the classroom at Pitt? Talented player//yes….another project//not needed.

PK your opinion is correct. We are soft (to say the least) near the basket. Young (if he pans out) would take pressure off Adams and enable Zanna to develop. Taylor is a medical case (knees) who knows what will happen with him next year?

Comment by isnore 02.04.12 @ 10:02 am

Speaking of BB, tonight is an absolute MUST WIN!
Jay Wright will be flashing his fancy $1200 custom made suit and matching tie and cufflinks…Pitt should be flashing a solid game on offense and defense.

Comment by isnore 02.04.12 @ 10:06 am

I’ll defer to Jamie Dixon’s judgement on this one. Every situation is different and he undoubtably has a better handle on everying involved than we do. The Kehm Birch thing aside, Dixon has been pretty good with his players. I think Birch never really got over his recruiter leaving Pitt for a head coaching job. Had he stuck around, I have no doubt that he would be in the flow of things and comfortable in the program. I don’t think a program should stop going after good players because of one failure. People leave a school for a lot of reasons. In Birch’s case his handlers did a great dis-service.
It appears that the Panthers are back on track and Birch could have been part of it. He’s the one who lost out.

Comment by Justinian 02.04.12 @ 10:09 am

link to

Nice little tidbit on adams

Comment by Pk 02.04.12 @ 10:19 am

Pk, nice piece. Every quote i read from this kid makes me more pleased he’s coming here (knock on wood). Sounds like a stand-up guy who genuinely wants to get better and doesn’t act/talk like some of the more self-entitled kids topping the recruiting charts. Or he’s just media savvy – but i doubt this for someone so young.

Comment by PantherP 02.04.12 @ 10:51 am

PantherP. I agree. He was never subject to the media in new zealand so itd be strange if he was this media savvy as you said. It sounds like hes a very likable kid, so i dont think team chemistry will be a problem at pitt like it was with birch.

Comment by Pk 02.04.12 @ 10:58 am

Chas: What chance are we taking exactly? We have an OPEN scholarship. Not using it this year is the same as him bolting like Birch

Comment by Tony C 02.04.12 @ 11:24 am

I agree with Justinian !! While it’s interesting to read all your comments……… I feel that when you have a quality coach like Dixon… you give him lotsa leeway and benefit of the doubt. If he feels this player is worth his time and scholarship, then I’d lay my $$$ on him………..

Comment by mtoolmn 02.04.12 @ 11:37 am

If Pitt is seriously interested in Graham, they need to focus on his academics as part of the recruiting process. I agree that if he can’t make the grades in high school, he will certainly struggle when he has a lot of free time. That said, our academic support team can really do great things but the kid needs to commit to it or he will be out of school as soon as the Big East schedule starts. He would be a 1/2 and done. This is where JD needs to know whether the kid can commit to improving in the classroom. Khem didn’t commit to being great. He wanted to be great and thought he was, without the work. I hope he can turn his life around or he will be bankrupt, five years from finishing pro ball.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 02.04.12 @ 11:47 am

Baggage and question marks are different. This kid has some question marks but by all accounts seems like a good kid. He’s not at the elite status Birch was and his handlers, most likely, have a different agenda than ones influencing Birch. Sounds like he’s had a tough go at it recently. I wish him the best and hope he finds the right school…I would be more than happy to welcome him to Pitt.

Remember, the grades issue is pure speculation and we don’t know why he transferred schools. I will also defer to Dixon on this one.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.04.12 @ 12:09 pm

I’m just thinking that next year’s team could be very good, but will need to answer some questions.

Zanna and Taylor could be nice complements to Adams up front – but we’ve seen they can’t carry the load. Patterson has shown Wanamaker-like flashes… and frankly looks to be right about even with Wanamaker’s development pattern. Remember, Brad was mediocre until his junior year. Johnson is a sniper. BUT a lot will hinge on this new point guard since we’re lost without Woodall. Another wing player with a great shot certainly wouldn’t hurt… and could help answer some of those questions.

Comment by pittbaster 02.04.12 @ 12:23 pm

Ive said before that i would rather have another immediate impact big man, but i would be thrilled if pitt got graham. Pitts guards are good. I think patterson will actually be pitts best scorer next year and the young guys will progress and do on, but torian graham is the dynamic elite scoring-high flying shootibg guard that pitts never had. Jamie dixon has offered him a scholarship and is receuitibg him REALLY hard, so he must think the commitment is there. If he signs with pitt and he works hard in all aspects, id fully expect him to play 10-15 minutes per game and give pitt a real offensive threat

Comment by Pk 02.04.12 @ 12:39 pm

In his freshman year of course

Comment by Pk 02.04.12 @ 12:40 pm

Let’s not forget about Durand Johnson and Malcom Gilbert in these discussions. Both were highly regarded recruits and there is always a discernible difference in conditioning from year one to year two under Dixon.

As far as Graham goes, every kid is different and the Birch fiasco shouldn’t make Dixon gun shy. If he qualifies academically — sounds like a big if — and wants to commit to Pitt, I’m all for it. I’m glad I’m not judged for things I did when I was seventeen and god only knows how worse it would have been had my mother passed. Let’s give this kid a break.

Comment by Denny 02.04.12 @ 1:58 pm

I agree with those above that think a power forward should be the priority. Zanna can play there for the next 2 years but has no back up although wouldn’t be surprised to see Sleepy there next year.

Comment by wbb 02.04.12 @ 2:59 pm


Do yourself a favor and dont assume Adams is a one and done, he’s only been playing ball for 5 years and needs a lot of refinement.

Comment by Yup 02.04.12 @ 4:00 pm


I’m going to continue to assume that Adams is a one-and-done. Not in any slight to the kid. But in respect to his talent, potential and the raw economics of it. I won’t complain if he lasts 2 years — hell, I’ll consider running naked down the street cheering the news — but counting on more than one strikes me as the foolish approach.

Comment by Chas 02.04.12 @ 5:16 pm

if he does leave after one, then we have Gilbert at the 5 entering his 3rd year and need a good 4 to go along with him. Zanna can play both but we need more than just these 2. Even if Adams stays, we need a 4 as part as this next recruting class

Comment by wbb 02.04.12 @ 5:23 pm

Birch was considered a potential one and done or two years at the most. If they skip a PF this class they are in the same boat they were before. I don’t think it’s a priority until 2013. If they can a legit 2 – do it.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.04.12 @ 5:30 pm

I think in the 2012 and 2013 class needs another power forward and center. The depth at both the 4 and 5 is weak. Look out for beejay anya, a 6’8″ 265 center for 2013 and current teammate of james robinson. He says he favors pitt and syracuse so its not far fetched. I wouldnt object to getting two forwards in 2013.

Comment by Pk 02.04.12 @ 5:33 pm

If Adams is one & done, then you got to take full advantage of that one year. If this kid Graham can come in immediately and produce you have to take the chance. As it sits now, we would have Woody & Robinson at the PG and Johnson & Wright at the 2G.
Even if you play Woody at the 2 with Robinson, that is a really small backcourt. Same thing with Johnson at the 2. While Wright gives you more size and defense, he’s limited offensively. So the Graham kid definitely is needed. Of course who also wouldn’t want a 6-9 kid that averages 20 & 20. Too bad Gilbert’s redshirt was burned, but perhaps they could redshirt him next year, as he’s not going to get much time behind Adams and Taylor anyway.

Comment by Emel 02.04.12 @ 5:36 pm

I don’t know what I was thinking (or not thinking) when I said this morning that TONIGHT is a must win…yeah, I know the game is at 2PM tomorrow….and it is still a must win.

Comment by isnore 02.04.12 @ 5:45 pm

If Dixon is coming after this kid that hard, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt in terms of baggage/questions marks, etc.
It’t be worth rolling out a backcourt of Robinson and Graham come March 2013 or 2014. Let’s have other teams worry about our guards for once.

Comment by JW 02.04.12 @ 5:58 pm

Breaking news — two Pitt guys in new NFL Hall of Fame class — Chris Doleman & Curtis Martin

Steelers fans – Dermonnti finally made it

Comment by wbb 02.04.12 @ 6:12 pm

Congratulations to Curtis Martin and Chris Doleman! Two more Panthers heading to Canton.

Pretty Impressive

Comment by Coach Ditka 02.04.12 @ 6:21 pm

That’s great news wbb

I remember Chris Doleman playing down here against South Carolina and being a 1 man wrecking crew that game. He was a monster for PITT and the Minny Vikes. Congrats Chris.

And of course congrats to Curtis Martin of Alderdice HS, another PITT & NFL great. Only Curtis and Barry Sanders have rushed for 1000 yards in the NFL, 10 years in a row !

Comment by Emel 02.04.12 @ 7:08 pm

also old time Steeler Jack Butler into the Hall Of Fame. Fine day for the ‘Burgh!!

Comment by The Turk 02.04.12 @ 7:17 pm

That’s 4 out of 6 new Hall of Famers with Pittsburgh ties.

Comment by The Turk 02.04.12 @ 7:22 pm

look’s like WVU continues to plan on B12 in 012

link to

Comment by wbb 02.04.12 @ 8:56 pm

Canton should be filled with Pitt gold at the induction ceremony.

Comment by SFPitt 02.04.12 @ 9:02 pm

Pitt is an elite football program when you consider the number of NFL Hall of Famers. Take that State Penn and you toothless Hoopies.

Comment by TX Panther 02.04.12 @ 10:06 pm

Pitt is now tied for 3rd place (with Ohio State) for number of college players elected to the NFL Hall of Fame
USC: 11
ND: 10
Pitt & Ohio State: 8

Comment by MikePITT 02.05.12 @ 12:25 am

People seem to semi-regularly make statements like, “Boy good thing I am not judged by what I did at 17,” or something like this as a way to defend college and high school athletes and to justify giving them scholarships to division 1 universities. While I am certainly sympathetic to the sentiment- I am glad that what I did at 17 didn’t determine my entire future as well- we can’t just make that statement and act like this issue is that simple. For people who question taking a shot at Torian Graham, they aren’t questioning whether or not he is a genuinely good kid who deserves a shot in life. They are questioning whether or not a university should invest $100,000+ in the kid. How many decisions were any of us a part of at 17 or 18 that revolved around someone else wanting to know if we were a safe bet for that kind of money? (Probably only college, and most of us probably didn’t get scholarshiped all the way through.)

Understand I am not saying that Graham will be a bad investment. I am just trying to give some perspective to the actual issue. It isn’t about just denying some 17 year old a future because of mistakes he may have made. It is always- in every kid’s case- about determining whether the investment is worth the risk (i.e. that he doesn’t pan out, that he ends up embarrassing the school, that he is injury prone and never sees the court, that he isn’t able to make the grades, etc.).

That said, I don’t want to see Khem Birch make us gun shy on other kids. It doesn’t seem like Dixon is, but I hope that he and we will be willing to judge each kid on his own merits.

Comment by kanyon40 02.05.12 @ 8:51 am

Amazing number of HOF, considering our relative wins/loss record. Doleman and Martin were studs. Revis and Fitz are next.

Hail to Pitt!

Comment by gc 02.05.12 @ 9:44 am

I would hope that Pitt displays the number of NFL Hall of Famers and lists them as currently in third place all-time so that the recruits will see the pedigree of the program.

Fitzgerald and Revis are many years away from induction. Fitzgerald is a lock. Revis has a lot more work to do, especially with years. He needs at least five more years of solid production. Would be a good idea for Smiley to have a jersey throwback game to honor the newest inductees.That would make too much sense however. Congrats men on your accomplishments.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 02.05.12 @ 2:13 pm

[…] interest in Torian Graham earlier this month, had suggested that Coach Dixon was thinking about adding another […]

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