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Wisconsin basketball recruiting: fast rising in-state prospect receives an offer

James Graham out of Nicolet High School in Milwaukee finally got a scholarship offer from the Badgers.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Recruiting is the lifeblood of any major college athletics team, but following it closely as a fan can sometimes be difficult and can often be time consuming. We’ll try and condense all the recruiting news you can use into this bi-weekly (or more often since we are in Uncertain Times and there aren’t actual sports going on) post. It’ll include updates on current commits, including stats from their high school games, as well as news on players the Badgers are still pursuing. Let’s get down to business!

New offer

  • 2021 3-star wing James Graham III (Milwaukee) out of Nicolet High School received a scholarship offer to play for the Wisconsin Badgers on Thursday after a Zoom call with the entire coaching staff. Graham has been one of the fastest rising prospects in the country this spring/summer and he has over 20 offers to prove it. According to 247Sports, Maryland, Florida State, Michigan State and Vanderbilt are in the lead for Graham, but schools like Arizona State, Butler, Indiana, Iowa, Memphis, Marquette, Oregon and Xavier have also offered.

Graham stands 6-foot-8 and weighs around 205 pounds and would appear to fit the mold of a player that could play any position but point guard or center. In Evan Flood’s article on Graham ($), the wing notes “I guess they see (Chris) Hodges at the five and (Matthew) Mors at the four. They have one more spot at the perimeter. I think they see me as more of a three and than the four.”

In the 247Composite, Graham is ranked the No. 151 player in the country, the No. 36 small forward and the No. 3 player in the state of Wisconsin. 247Sports standalone rankings, however, are much more bullish on Graham, having him ranked as the No. 56 player in the country, No. 10 small forward and the No. 2 player in the state.

Over on Rivals, here is what Eric Bossi had to say about Graham three weeks ago after they updated their 2021 class rankings:

One of the most intense debates during our rankings updates was what to do with Wisconsin power forward James Graham. At 6-foot-8 he appears to have some inside/out game and fits the mold of what teams are looking for in a four man who can stretch the floor on offense and help control the glass on defense. But, we’ve not been able to evaluate him in person so we decided to hold off on a ranking until we could get a live viewing.

Rivals has him rated as a 3-star prospect and the No. 26 small forward in the class.

Graham is a player that has truly baffled me, to be quite honest. He was a kid who you didn’t hear a whole lot about coming into his junior season (which may have been because he missed the 2019 AAU season with an injury) and then he started getting all sorts of offers this spring/summer when coaches couldn’t even evaluate players in person! As a junior, Graham averaged 20.6 points per game in 23 games played, which is good but maybe not the mind blowing numbers you’d expect from a prospect who has gotten all of these new offers.

Graham has the ability to score from all three levels and based on the video that Flood tweeted above compared to his junior year highlight video I think that he has improved his shooting stroke from three a bit. In the video below his motion was almost loopy when he shot a three and in the above video he had a quicker release.

I like Graham’s game especially if the Badgers see him more as a jumbo wing/slasher/shooter type player and less as a classic power forward. His ability in the post, however, will be valuable if he is switched onto a smaller defender.

In both Flood’s post on Graham as well as Jon McNamara of Rivals’ post Graham pointed out that being a “hometown hero” was appealing and as such, Marquette and Wisconsin would be getting extended looks from him. With the Badgers offering later in the game will they be adversely affected? It’ll be interesting to see which schools make the cut when he announces a top-whatever list.