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Player Profile: Will Graves

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In preparation for the 2008-09 basketball season, I will be profiling key contributors for the Tar Heels. Today’s profile looks at RS junior SF Will Graves

Vitals

Number: 13
Position: SF
Height: 6-6
Weight: 240 lbs
Year: RS Junior
2008-09 Stats: 20 gms, 4.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 27% 3P%
Career Stats:56 gms, 2.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 36% 3P%

What Happened Last Season

Graves came off the bench averaging 11 minutes per game until the middle of the ACC season. Then, inexplicably at the time, Graves never saw the floor against NC State and again versus Maryland three days later. Following the Maryland game, UNC announced that Graves had been suspended for the remainder of the season for what Art Chansky, in his new book Light Blue Reign referred to as a rules violation common to many students at UNC. To this day no one has said what led to the supsension only that is in the past. Before that, Graves played well at times but did not shoot the ball with any great proficiency and was, at times, a defensive liability which is a sure way to curtail your playing time in Roy's system.

Outlook For This Season

Graves' importance cannot be underscored enough. UNC has a gigantic black hole in the offense called "three-point shooting" and it is unclear how that void will be filled. What we do know is if it cannot be filled to a sufficient level it stands the suck the season in on itself. Graves, who by all accounts, is a good shooter, could be the shooter UNC needs to compensate for the loss of Ellington-Lawson-Green on the perimeter. No, he cannot do it all by himself but something in the 40% neighborhood would do a world of good assuming the Heels can come up with a 2nd shooter of near equal caliber. Graves is also looking at a situation similar to Larry Drew. Graves will be emerging from the shadow into the spotlight and the hope is that once he is thrust into a main role without the stars around him crowding his playing time, he will seize the brass ring and step up his game.

Main Concerns

Defense. Which is the same thing I wrote last year about Graves and was nearly tempted to leave the same sentence in place. Defense has always been a suspect part of Graves' game and Roy's major qualification for being a good defender is a player who move his feet to stay in front of the ball and hustles. Granted it is not a total loss since the shooting aspect, if it is there, will still be useful but it would limit his playing time based on the way Roy handles his personnel. The other concern is focus. It is not easy to come back from certain circumstances, especially ones of your own making. At the same time it could be a motivator and not a distraction which is ideal.

Wish List

40% three-point shooter while becoming an effective scorer. At 6-6 and 240 lbs, Graves has the potential to take advantage of mismatches with the opposing two guard on the floor by either shooting over them outright or posting them up. Graves also needs to become a reliable rebounder. When the guards and small forwards rebound well in Roy's system it pushes the offense on the break more quickly. Overall if Graves can play smart, watch the turnovers and play serviceable defense then he be able to make solid contributions to this team by answering some of the concerns with the perimeter offense.