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In Case You Were Wondering About William Graves

If there is a virtual unknown factor for the upcoming basketball season it is whether or not redshirt freshman William Graves can be a contributor. Bill Cole at the WSJ gives us a glimpse at Graves and what he might have to offer:

Even though Williams didn’t sign anyone, UNC will have one new player next season in William Graves, a 6-6 forward who redshirted last season.

Graves was one of four frontcourt players in UNC’s six-man class of 2006. He went through every practice and dressed out for nearly every game, in case of an emergency. He also used the redshirt year get in shape, dropping 24 pounds to put his weight at 250, and to learn UNC’s system.

The drawback is that Graves did not see any competition and will need time to get back into a playing rhythm. Still, Williams is confident that Graves can help early next season.

“I think everyone - I don’t care who you are - you never work as hard on a redshirt year when you’re sitting out as you do when you’ve got a chance to play on Tuesday night,” Williams said. “That just doesn’t happen. But he really did make good use of his time.

“He improved, and he worked on his body. I think the year really helped him. He’s going to play basketball here, and before he leaves he’s going to be extremely important to us.”

Graves averaged 25.1 points and 10.6 rebounds in 2005-06 and helped Greensboro Dudley win its second consecutive Class 3-A state title. He was The Associated Press state player of the year and a first-team all-state selection.

Williams thinks that Graves will help most on the perimeter, at small forward or shooting guard, but that he also can play power forward in a small lineup. Graves can consistently hit the 3-point shot.

The possibility Graves could bring perimeter shooting from the small forward position is great news. Of course the real issue upfront is what Roy said and that is Graves has to get acclimated to game conditions. Since he has already been through one season, knows the system and presumably is in shape I sort of see him like a true freshmen in early January. By the time a true freshman gets eight weeks into a season he understands the system and his conditioning should be there. The only aspect found lacking is experience. I think that is where Graves will be when the season begins which means he could be an asset by March. The one determining factor concerning Graves is the rotation and finding a role on this within the rotation. At any rate it will be nice to see how Graves develops with an eye towards the following two seasons when attrition via the NBA Draft and graduation thins the roster a bit.

Hat tip: Jackie Manuel's Posse