Kansas’ ‘Other Guard’ Devonte’ Graham Doesn’t Need Spotlight

Josh Jackson and Frank Mason III are receiving most of the attention for Kansas, but Devonte’ Graham also has made significant contributions during the Jayhawks’ NCAA Tournament run.

Kansas coach Bill Self regularly finds himself answering questions regarding national player of the year candidate Frank Mason III and star freshman Josh Jackson, who will be an NBA lottery pick in a few short months.

That comes with the territory. But Self doesn’t hesitate to point out that junior guard Devonte’ Graham is just as responsible for the Jayhawks’ 30-4 record that helped them win a 13th straight Big 12 regular-season title, earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and advance to the Sweet 16.

“They’ve both been really good, but, you know, sometimes when you talk about Frank (and Jackson) you don’t give Devonte’ his due,” Self said prior to the Jayhawks’ Thursday night matchup with No. 4 seed Purdue in Kansas City.

Graham fills the stat sheet just as much as his superstar teammates. He’s averaging 13.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.6 steals. He’s shot a combined 8 for 13 from 3-point range in the NCAA Tournament draining four apiece in Kansas’ first-round blowout of UC Davis and Sunday’s 20-point thrashing of No. 9 seed Michigan State.

Kansas Jayhawks guard Devonte’ Graham has hit 8 of 13 from 3-point range in the NCAA Tournament. (Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)

But Graham has played in the shadows of Mason and Jackson all season despite the fact that he has scored in double figures in 29 of 34 games and also distributes the ball just as well as Mason. He has a knack for hitting big shots and also is a lockdown defender.

And none of this is brand new. Graham started 36 of 38 games last season, averaging 11.3 points while shooting 44.1 percent from 3-point range. He and Mason have complemented each other’s games for awhile now.

But Graham doesn’t need to hear constant praise. He plays his role just fine out of the spotlight.

“I’ve always been an understudy,” Graham said. “But Frank is getting the attention he deserves. I think he’s the National Player of the Year, so I feel like I get the attention that I deserve, too, and I just do whatever I can to help the team win.”

Probably the biggest light cast on Graham this season was late last month, when he was arrested shortly after a victory over TCU that clinched the Big 12 title for Kansas. He failed to appear in court for an unpaid, expired tag ticket, an apparent misunderstanding for which he accepted responsibility after driving a teammates’ car.

But Graham, just like Jackson and reserve guard Lagerald Vick, have taken their punishments like men and moved on to help the Jayhawks in any way they can. That’s all Graham hopes to do, no matter who is paying attention.

“Everything that we do is noticed by the people that we need it to be noticed by – the coaches, teammates, and everybody,” Graham said. “Little things that we do for the team to help us win, we all notice it.”

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