Devonte’ Graham was nearly a Mountaineer.
Not a West Virginia Mountaineer, but an Appalachian State Mountaineer during the Jason Capel era.
Yes, that Devonte’ Graham, the reigning Big 12 Player of the Year, nearly took his talents to Appalachian State; well technically he did, but it didn’t last.
“We were just able to get lucky in the early signing period,” Capel told Jesse Newell of KansasCity.com, “and get a kid who later turned out to be an All-American.”
Capel was the very first to recruit Graham out of Needham B. Broughton High School in Raleigh, N.C., and in September 2012, Capel and the Mountaineers earned the under-the-radar point guard’s pledge. Two months later, Graham signed his National Letter of Intent with Appalachian State, but once his senior season kicked off and his recruitment followed suit, Capel refused to let Graham out of his NLI.
In the aftermath and uproar that followed from the Graham family and elsewhere, Graham ultimately bypassed the opportunity to play at Appalachian State and attended Brewster Academy in North Carolina, despite still being locked into his NLI. Meanwhile, as Graham began his post-high school career at Brewster Academy for the 2013-14 season, Appalachian State was compiling a 9-21 record in Graham’s absence, which ultimately led to Capel being fired following the 2014 season.
New Mountaineers coach John Fox then granted Graham his release, and one month letter, he was signed to the Kansas Jayhawks. Looking back, Capel told KansasCity.com that Graham made the right decision.
“He made the right decision,” Capel said. “An opportunity to play for a hall of fame coach, at a place like KU and the Phog, is a dream for any kid. Competing for championships, that’s what he’s all about, what he deserves.”
Bearing in mind what Graham has accomplished throughout the past four years at Kansas, notching a career average of 12.3 points and 4.4 assists per game en route to multiple All-Big 12 team honors and the aforementioned Big 12 Player of the Year honor, it’s hard to imagine that he was nearly an Appalachian State Mountaineer.
If Capel was being perfectly honest, he’d admit that that he was surprised, too.
“You get the kid and just hope through the recruiting process you can hold on,” Capel says. “Because you know how good they are and will be, even when no one else does.”
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