Summer of Graham; attends invite-only camp

Alonzo Small
Sports Editor

Senior Traveon Graham attended three NBA camps this summer to showcase his skills. Photo by VCU Athletics.
Senior Traveon Graham attended three NBA camps this summer to showcase his skills. Photo by VCU Athletics.

Entering his final season of VCU men’s basketball, senior Treveon Graham has had a busy summer. The summer included being invited to three NBA all-star camps which featured the NBA’s reigning Most Valuable Player, a homecoming King and CP3 and being named as one of the top-sleepers in the country by USA Today.

Graham was invited to showcase his skills on three separate occasions in front of NCAA and NBA players, coaches and scouts while attending the elite camps of Los Angeles Clipper point guard Chris Paul, Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant. All three camps pitted Graham against some of the top collegiate athletes nationwide through practice, drills, shootarounds and five-on-five scrimmages where the fundamentals of the game was the focal point.

Most recently, the 6-foot-6 swingman attended Paul’s invitation-only Elite Guard Camp from Aug. 7-10 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

“With Chris Paul’s camp, I went last year and I think they liked me and chose me for this year.” Graham said.

The mornings started with drills, and upon completion, the 15 collegiate athletes selected to attend battled in a one-on-one elimination tournament. The rules–the first to score three points on their opponent wins. After advancing to the championship round, Graham defeated Wichita State guard Fred VanVleet with to win the tournament. Graham also took part in a one-on-one scrimmage with Paul, for the second consecutive year.

Weeks before testing his skills against arguably the best point guard in the NBA, Graham attended the skills camp of who he feels is the best player in the league, LeBron James. Held in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 9-12, the LeBron James Skills Academy featured the top-80 high school prospects and top-30 collegiate players from across the country.

As with Paul’s camp, the morning sessions focused on a combination of drills for all positions.

Then players would implement those skills with 5-on-5 scrimmages during the afternoon sessions.

Graham spoke highly of James’ desire to teach players everything he possibly could as well as his outgoing personality during camp, which was in the midst of the media storm that was “The Decision: Part II”. But Graham said the fiasco didn’t damper the overall camp experience and eventually got the opportunity to match-up against the two-time NBA champion in 5-on-5 play.

“LeBron’s [vibe] was all about having fun and teaching us,” Graham said. “But I didn’t get to score on LeBron though.”

Graham was invited to participate in James’s camp based on his showing at the Kevin Durant Skills Camp in Washington, D.C., on June 27-29. The reigning MVP of the NBA hosted the top-30 high school and top-15 collegiate wing players (players who can play as a shooting guard and/or small forward) from across the country.

“[Durant] would help us with go-to-moves we could use and then towards the end of the morning sessions, we played a couple of games just to get us warmed up for the second session which was mostly all games.” Graham said.

Graham added matching up against three of the NBA’s best players was a great experience. He can also say he got to score on the league MVP in 5-on-5 play.

“[Durant] scored on me with a fadeaway jumper and then I stopped him once,” Graham said. “I got to score on KD with a three-pointer.”

Graham said some of the biggest takeaways from the camps he attended were how to use both hands more equally, how to become more consistent from three-point range, and how to implement better ball control on the court. But one thing the Temple Hills, Maryland native feels he doesn’t lack is confidence after attending the NBA all-pro camps.

“Going to camps like that helps.” Graham said.

With his stock rising, Graham was also selected to USA Today’s All-American Sleepers list. And while he saw the selection as compliment, he also viewed it as a slight.

“It’s a compliment just because people see me as one of the best in the country but also sleeper means nobody really knows much about me,” Graham said about selection. “So I could take it both ways, but I try to take it as a positive more than looking at it as a negative.”

Still, he feels the selection will be motivating factor when the season gets underway in November.

“Yeah, still motivates me to show people ‘I’m not a sleeper’.” Graham said.

Last season, Graham was VCU’s leading scorer averaging 15.8 points per game scoring 553 points on the season. He was second in minutes played averaging 28.3 minutes per game. As a sophomore, Graham scored 544 points and 252 points as a freshman. This year, Graham needs 608 points to break Eric Maynor’s record and become VCU’s all-time leading scorer. Graham says he is aware of the record but won’t let his game suffer trying to chase it.

 “Coach Smart said the things he needs from the team is going to help me break that record so doing what’s best for the team, it’ll come with it.” Graham said.

Personal accolades and camp experiences aside, Graham is excited about his upcoming year at VCU and the current roster which includes incoming freshman recruits Michael Gilmore, Justin Tillman, Jonathan Williams and Terry Larrier. Graham participates in shootarounds and workouts with his new teammates regularly and feels they each bring something special to the team.

In preparing for the new season, Graham says he feels the practices have been highly competitive. This may an indication that the Rams are seeking redemption after an early exit in the NCAA tournament last March. Graham admits the lost was one of the toughest in his collegiate career, but also agrees that the shooting woes from last year —free throws in particular — finally caught up to the team.

“All season we had our games where missed free throws really hurt us and I think that game was one of them,” Graham said about the 77-75 overtime loss to Stephen F. Austin University on March 21.

Now Graham says the team has a renewed focus on free throw shooting in hopes of increasing the team’s percentage this season. Alongside seniors Briante Weber and Jarred Guest, Graham feels the veteran trio is poised to lead the team in their season finale.

“We have great players,” Graham said. “Anybody on the team can play at any time so I’m really comfortable with anybody from the team being on the floor with me. It’s going to be a good year.”

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