NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Devonte Graham made headlines in September, when it was reported that Appalachian State wouldn't release him from his letter of intent. He's at Brewster Academy (N.H.) now – but nothing else has changed.
Graham is still signed to Appalachian State, and head coach Jason Capel still won't release him.
“He can't talk to anybody,” Brewster coach Jason Smith said. “[Schools] all call me and they all call his AAU coach.”
If Graham can't get a release and opts to go elsewhere, he will have to sit out a year and then have three years of eligibility.
Is there any chance he ends up going to Appalachian State anyway?
“Zero,” Smith said. “There's no shot in hell.”
There has been no communication between the two sides since Graham asked for his release in March. He tried contacting Appalachian State in the spring, and received no response.
When he signed his letter of intent, the Mountaineers were in the Southern Conference -- where four or five schools were within a few hours of Graham's home in Raleigh, N.C. Now, Appalachian State is in the Sun Belt, where most schools are more toward Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas.
Graham won't be able to talk to other coaches until Appalachian State finishes its academic year in early May. Rest assured, though, coaches are certainly watching him.
The 6-foot-1 point guard is a high-major talent, and he's proven that at the National Prep Showcase this weekend. Graham is a good athlete with quickness, and he made plays at both ends of the floor. He got to the rim, ran the break, and found teammates. Graham ran the pick-and-roll effectively, and showed great vision and hands. He also kept defenses honest with his perimeter jumper. Defensively, he played passing lanes and forced steals. In the Southern Conference, Graham would have a star. If he goes on the market, he would probably be the most sought-after point guard in the class of 2014.
ESPN.com reported in late September that one of the main reasons Appalachian State wouldn't release him from his letter of intent was the thought that North Carolina State tampered. Of course, the Mountaineers could simply release him with the caveat that he can't play for the Wolfpack. Instead, they're holding him to his signature.
Two months ago, Appalachian State released a statement regarding the situation:
We take particular exception to the unsubstantiated and irresponsible opinion of some media members that we are holding a student-athlete "hostage." With his family's blessing and support, Devonte Graham willingly and excitedly chose to sign a National Letter of Intent with Appalachian State last November after having the opportunity to be recruited by 351 NCAA Division I programs.
Furthermore, if he thought that a more desirable situation might arise in the future, he also had the option to wait until the late signing period in April to make his college choice. Since he chose to sign a binding Letter of Intent with Appalachian State, we stopped recruiting a large number of student-athletes at his position in his class who would have been grateful for the opportunity to receive a full scholarship to attend and play basketball at our great institution.
As our coaching staff fully expected, Devonte had a terrific senior season last winter and, accordingly, drew the interest of programs from what are widely recognized as "power conferences." However, due to his binding agreement with Appalachian State, other programs were not permitted by NCAA rules to contact him, be it directly or through people claiming to represent his interests. Due to our concerns that these rules were not followed and the fact that we had turned away all other potential student-athletes that could have capably filled his spot on the roster, we denied his request for a release from his binding Letter of Intent.
We also made the NCAA aware of our concerns.
While we understand that it is en vogue [sic] for the media to hammer away at the perceived bureaucracy of the NCAA, recruiting rules and guidelines are in place to protect student-athletes and NCAA institutions alike. Without them, recruiting would be utter chaos. All of that being said, the situation is now in the hands of the NCAA and will be resolved by its governance. Therefore, we will not have any further comment on the matter.