Tyree Graham from Durham, NC, started his senior year of basketball at Southern Durham High School with dreams of moving on and playing college basketball afterwards.
Midway through the season, though, the 6’2, 190 pound combo guard transferred to Mount Zion Christian Academy, which is well known for producing top tier basketball talent, including NBA all-star Tracy McGrady and Kansas forward Brandon Rush.
While at Mount Zion, Graham’s stock began to soar, garnering him scholarship offers from Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, and Clemson, not to mention frequent contact from Louisville, North Carolina, and Villanova.
At the end of his senior season at Mount Zion, Graham received some bad news. He did not qualify academically to play collegiate athletics.
|Graham has always excelled on the |
“I felt that basketball was my outlet,” explained Graham. “That’s all I cared about. I would sit in the classroom and I would learn at times, but usually I was thinking about what I was going to do after school. I would even skip class and go to the gym. I just felt that sitting in a classroom wouldn’t help me get anywhere.”
Not qualifying was a major blow to Graham’s dreams to someday play professional basketball, but that wouldn’t be the only hit he took that year.
“I had a death in the family in 2005 as well,” said Graham. “He was a good friend of mine, and it was really hard on me. It made it even harder for me to concentrate on my school work and my priorities just fell out of line. It was the low point in my life.”
After nearly ruining any chance of playing basketball at the next level, Tyree began to ponder what direction he was going to take his life. It’s an all too common story: a player with tremendous talent throwing everything away because he doesn’t have his priorities in order.
“I felt that people were talking bad about me,” said Graham. “They were saying I’m not doing something with myself. I had a little brother who looked up to me. I had a dad who pushed me. My friend that passed wouldn’t want me to not go to college. All these things combined provided motivation for me to get things straightened out.”
Graham transferred to Village Christian Academy in Fayetteville, NC and began turning his life around.
|Tyree has made his academics a priority|
First and foremost, academics became the number one priority for the standout athlete. Basketball took a backseat to his school work.
“The NBA is my dream, but that’s true for almost every player around the country. Not everyone can go to the NBA. Things may not work out for me, and I want to have a degree I can fall back on if my dreams don’t come true. You have to be realistic about everything.”
Graham’s hard work and determination to succeed academically propelled him not only in the classroom, but on the hardwood as well. He has developed a great work ethic that has him playing the best basketball of his young career.
Back on October 6th, Graham took an official visit to Texas Tech after being offered a scholarship to play basketball for legendary coach Bob Knight.
While sitting down next to Coach Knight during a Red Raider practice session, he let the Hall of Fame coach know his intentions.
“I was watching practice, sitting down next to Coach Knight. While I was sitting with him I told him that I wanted to commit to Texas Tech. He told me that was a very good choice,” laughed Graham.
|Graham will be suiting up for legendary coach |
Bob Knight at Texas Tech
Graham flew back to North Carolina after his visit and told his Dad the exciting news. His father was thrilled about his decision, but he also had a few words of fatherly advice to give.
“My dad told me to hit this head on. One thing he has always taught me is to take all your challenges head on. He said this is my second chance and not everyone gets another shot like this, so make the most of it. I’m really blessed to have a Dad that pushes me to be better.”
Not everyone gets a second chance, but Tyree Graham did, and it looks like he will be making the most of it.