With just 103 days until the college hoops season officially kicks off (no official date yet one when VCU first opens the Siegel Center gates however), what better way to burn a few minutes on a hot day than looking at one of the hottest rising players in the black and gold: Treveon Graham.
The sophomore is being pegged by Ram fans and the national media as a potential breakout player in VCU’s first A-10 season. VCU will find ways to fill the void left by graduating team leader Bradford Burgess, and checking in as a 6’5 215 Burgess clone of sorts, many in the know are expecting Graham to be just that guy.
As a freshman, the DC native caught fire at times, dumping 15 points in 19 minutes of play in his first real breakout performance just 10 games into his college career as VCU kicked off last year’s CAA conference season. Graham scored in double digits eight times last year, two efforts coming in last year’s CAA tournament including 13 points in 21 minutes of last year’s CAA title game.
While those games offered a flash of Graham’s potential, they will be expected, justly or not, as the sophomore looks to help take the Rams back to the NCAA tournament.
I hate math, but stats — especially those offering a glimpse of what’s to come — turn me on. And the clues Graham left in 20+ minute performances are sure to have VCU fans excited about Treveon’s future.
In his 14 games of extended play (20+) minutes, Graham posted 11 points and 4.6 rebounds per contest, hitting 42% of his field goals, 38% of his attempts from long range. Adjusted over 32.3 minutes (departing senior Bradford Burgess’ playing time from a year ago), Graham’s averages rise to 16 points and 6.75 rebounds, 2.7 points and 1.85 rebounds more than Burgess posted in his final season as a Ram, and a fraction more of a point than team-leader Jamie Skeen averaged in his Final 4 season in 2010-11.
Of course those numbers could look even better if Graham improves a key weakness from last season: free throw shooting.
Graham got to the stripe an amazing amount of times, getting just 30 less attempts than Burgess’ team leading 150, but in about half the minutes played — 560 less than Burgess. Graham however hit just 63% of those, good for seventh out of the eight players who averaged double-digit minutes last season. DJ Haley was eighth.
Burgess lead the team with 119 makes in that category, good for 79% on the season.
IF Graham can pull that percentage up, avoid the dreaded “sophomore slump” and play to his potential, he’s got a great chance at becoming VCU’s most prolific sophomore scorer since a guy named Eric Maynor dropped 13.9 points a game the year he lead the Rams to the second round of the NCAA tournament.