CHICAGO — A text message arrived on Devonte’ Graham’s phone ahead of one of the biggest experiences of his career.
“Just take advantage of it and control what you can control,” Graham’s mother, Dewanna King, sent him.
As the Kansas All-American prepared for the first day of the NBA Draft Combine at Quest Multisport Complex in Chicago on Thursday, Graham was soaking in as much positive energy as possible.
In addition to his mother, his former Kansas teammate Frank Mason III and ex-high school teammate Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz have also offered advice.
Mitchell and Graham starred at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, together during the 2013-14 season, winning the national prep title and New England championship with a 33-0 record for coach Jason Smith.
“I haven’t talked to (Frank) lately but I talked to him a little bit. He just told me all about taking care of your body, just going out doing the little things,” Graham said. “I talked to Donovan Mitchell a lot about it and just trying to go out and play your game and not do too much.”
Graham recently wrapped up his four-year college career as the unanimous Big 12 Player of the Year. Even after leading Kansas to the Final Four and the program’s 14th consecutive conference title, Graham is still projected to fall late in the first round or early second round in the June 21 NBA draft because of the stigma surrounding four-year players. He averaged 17.3 points, 7.2 assists and 4.0 rebounds this past season and participated in the first scrimmage of the NBA Draft Combine this week.
Graham also interviewed with Memphis, Atlanta and Detroit during the combine Wednesday. Even with his close ties to Mitchell, he hasn’t interviewed with the Jazz but did attend a game at Vivint Arena in April to watch the Jazz beat the Lakers.
Mitchell finished with 26 points and six rebounds to lead the Jazz that night. Utah will pick No. 21 and No. 52 in the upcoming draft.
“I went to the Lakers game. We’ve got a good relationship,” Graham said of Mitchell. “We went to Brewster together, we always keep in touch with each other, hitting each other up before games and stuff like that. We got the same agent so that’s my dude.”
Ty Sullivan of CAA Sports represents Graham and Mitchell. They both also have baseball ties with Graham’s uncle, Derrick Graham, who played in the Cincinnati Reds organization in the early 1990s, and Mitchell’s father, Donovan Sr., who spent time in the Houston Astros organization during that same era.
Witnessing Mitchell’s impact in Salt Lake City has changed the franchise’s swagger and Graham is inspired to have the same effect as a pro.
“They had an unbelievable year and did some good things,” Graham said of Utah. “I think the pieces they got fit well and guys know their role and they all play together and they share the ball and it just looks like they were having fun.”