It’s that time of the year, coronavirus pandemic or not, where soon-to-be high school seniors with a future in college basketball are inching closer to making their decision about where they want to go. Sometimes it’s an actual commitment announcement, and sometimes it’s merely announcing a change to their recruiting list. We’re looking at the second one here, as Wisconsin native James Graham announced a top nine list, and yes, he included Marquette in his list. The Golden Eagles are joined by Auburn, Florida State, Georgetown, Maryland, Memphis, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Vanderbilt.
I’m blessed to announce my top top 9 schools ! Thank You God pic.twitter.com/8Q7TnfSgYu— James Graham III (@JamesGrahamIII2) July 20, 2020
Discussing Graham, a 6’8”, 205 pound small forward who attends Nicolet High School in the near north Milwaukee suburbs, and his place in the national rankings picture takes some nuance. 247 Sports has him at #150 in the country in their Composite system, which makes him the #34 small forward in the Class of 2021 and the #3 player in the state of Wisconsin. However, in 247’s internal system, Graham is ranked #56 in the country. That’s a big difference! To make it clear how much of a difference we’re talking about here, being ranked #56 in the country makes Graham the ninth best small forward instead of 34th. It also nudges him past fellow Marquette prospect Tyrese Hunter to become the #2 prospect in the state of Wisconsin, although that doesn’t help show the difference between #150 and #56 very well.
Even though Graham is a local prospect in every sense of the word for the Golden Eagles, they didn’t actually offer him a scholarship until mid-June. That was only a month ago, so it’s good news that head coach Steve Wojciechowski has Marquette in such a prominent position in such a short time. Obviously, recruiting relationships tend to go back further than just a scholarship offer, but still. Marquette isn’t the only team to get involved fairly recently and end up at the top of Graham’s list. When we talked about his offer from MU, we noted that Graham had picked up offers from Maryland, Florida State, Michigan State, Vanderbilt, and Auburn since the start of May. Include MU in there, and that’s six of his top nine. I think it’s safe to say that Graham has been blowing up nationally as of late, and that probably goes a long way to explaining why 247 the company thinks he’s a top 60 prospect while 247 the compiling service is lagging behind.
Max Preps shows stats for 24 games that Graham played in as Nicolet went 22-3 this past season. He averaged 20.2 points per game, which led the team if you ignore the fact that 2020 top prospect Jalen Johnson averaged 24.6 per contest but only in nine games played. Graham added 6.6 rebounds per game along with 1.4 assists and a block to boot. That’s some pretty quality across the board production, and the fact that Graham shot 44% from long range on just over five attempts per game is pretty good, too.
Thanks to the pandemic, we didn’t have a spring grassroots circuit to give us new highlight clips, so we’ll just roll out this three-plus minute reel that we put into the article for Graham’s scholarship offer.
And on to the scholarship chart.
Even with Kameron Jones committed, it appears that Wojciechowski and his staff will still have four more scholarship spots available for the Class of 2021. There are two spots open for the 2020-21 school year, and I don’t really expect a mid-year transfer to change that, That sends those two spots onwards to the 2021-22 school year, and that’s how you get five total spots available with only three 2020-21 seniors.
Jones provides Marquette with a guard in the recruiting class, so that fills Koby McEwen’s spot on the roster. At 6’8” and 205 pounds, Graham would actually be bigger than Jamal Cain (6’7”, 190 lb.) was as a freshman, but you can see how Graham easily slots into Cain’s general area on the roster.
Graham joins a group of three other 2021 prospects that has MU on an active cutdown list. Stevie Mitchell included the Golden Eagles in mid-June, Tyrese Hunter followed that in late June, and Eric Van Der Heijden was right behind him on the first of July. It’s hard to say for certain, but Graham appears be the best of the group if you only pay attention to 247’s internal ranking system. If you’re saying “hey, what happened to Kendall Brown,” that’s a fair question since he took a junior year official visit to Marquette. However, the top 20 prospect committed to Baylor a few days ago and thus is obviously off the board. The Golden Eagles have a few other irons in the fire for 2021 — Bensley Joseph? Jordan Hawkins? D’Marco Dunn? DaRon Holmes? — that we can’t point at a cutdown list for, but as we said at the top of the page, it’s that time of the year, so keep your eyes and ears open.