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#KU50: 41 Devonte Graham

41 Days until Kansas basketball!

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Midwest Regional-Purdue vs Kansas Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Of all the players on the list, only one is still playing at Kansas. In some ways this was the hardest player to rank on the list. If Graham has the senior year we all envision he could have, he could justify moving up 10+ spots on this list. If he tanks, or god forbid gets hurt, he could drop off it entirely. In the end I’m splitting the difference and leaving him at 41.

Graham was originally committed to Appalachian State before shooting up in the rankings and committing to Kansas. He started off a bit slowly, playing only a third or so of the minutes his freshman season and taking around 3.5 shots per game. His 23 percent assist rate, 2nd on the team, foretold what was to come.

In his sophomore year, Graham became one of the best role players in the country, with a 19.4 percent assist rate, and 47.8/43.6/73.9 percent shooting splits (twos/threes/free throws). He also laid a masterful defensive performance on that year’s national player of the year, Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield, in a 76-72 win in Norman in which Hield didn’t make a two and had four turnovers.

Last year, Graham took yet another step forward. He played in 87 percent of the team’s minutes, which would be much more talked about had Mason not played in 89 percent of the team’s minutes. Graham shot 50 percent on twos, 39 percent on threes, and 79 percent from the line. He also lowered his turnover rate to 15.8 percent.

This season, Graham is expected to shoulder a lot of the load both in terms of scoring and passing. Fortunately, he’s shown he can do both in big games, with 26 points in the Jayhawks’ Sweet 16 win over Purdue last season and an 8 assist, 2 turnover performance in Ames.

As for his senior year, I am confident Graham can keep things going. To illustrate, a random comparison:

Player Usage Ortg Stl% Assist% TO% FT Rate 2pt% 3pt%
A 17.5 118.75 2.45 19.3 16.85 27.05 49 40.7
B 20.75 112.65 2.4 24.05 16.8 46.6 45 40.3

You might be able to guess, but this is a comparison between an average of the sophomore and junior years of Devonte Graham and Frank Mason. A is Graham, and B is Mason. Mason (spoiler alert) will be appearing much much later in this countdown, and even though he vaulted to that ranking thanks almost entirely to his spectacular senior season, one could argue Graham was better than Mason over the first three years of his career.

While I can’t see Kansas having back to back individual seasons like Mason’s, it is at least in the realm of possibility. If he does, who knows. Such is the difficulty in ranking an active player.

Graham sits 45th in KU’s all time scoring race with 1,075 points and with another big season could break into the top 15 all time at Kansas. If he does break the top 15, he could join Mason, Sherron Collins, Tyshawn Taylor, and Kirk Hinrich as KU’s only players with 1,500 points and 500 assists in their careers. If he does that, we might have to update the list with a much more accurate ranking.


42 Jerod Haase

43 Kenny Gregory

44 Wayne Selden

45 Otto Schellbacher

46 Ryan Robertson

47 Xavier Henry

48 Mark Turgeon

49 Paul Mokeski

50 Charlie T. Black