JAZZ DEAL PROVIDES INTRIGUING OPPORTUNITY FOR TREVEON GRAHAM

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Treveon Graham averaged 16.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game last season.

Treveon Graham averaged 16.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game last season.

The Freight Train is ready to chug across the Great Salt Lake.

The Utah Jazz officially announced the signing of Treveon Graham Monday. Terms were not disclosed, but Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders and others are reporting Graham’s deal as a partially guaranteed 3-year contract.

Graham, who was not selected in the NBA Draft in June, played for the San Antonio Spurs in the Utah and Las Vegas summer leagues and averaged 7.8 points per game. Graham was said to be receiving interest from a handful of teams following his summer league stint and had been weighing his options.

This deal is an intriguing one, and could pay off for Graham. The Jazz currently have 13 players signed to guaranteed contracts for 2015-16. That includes injured point guard Dante Exum, who is expected to miss the entire 2015-16 campaign.

Source: RealGM.com

Source: RealGM.com

Graham will most likely try to win a spot at shooting guard, but could also play small forward in small lineups. With that in mind, it’s important to note the contracts of Elijah Millsap (who shot 34 percent from the field last season) and Chris Johnson are currently non-guaranteed.

NBA rosters are limited to 15 players in total, although only 13 can be active on a given night. Teams are allowed to carry 20 players during training camp and can then allocate four (up from three in previous years) cut players to their D-League affiliates. While teams do not retain exclusive rights, and can be signed by any NBA team, it does keep allocated players out of the D-League draft and allows teams to place them with their affiliate. Utah, in case you were wondering, is affiliated with the Idaho Stampeders in Boise. The Houston Rockets developed Troy Daniels in this very same manner.

By joining the Jazz for training camp, Graham has given himself an excellent chance to remain under the team’s umbrella. Even if he doesn’t make the team out of camp, there’s a very good chance the Jazz will place him in Idaho and give him a chance to develop.

Seven former VCU players have appeared in an NBA game.

WHAT’S BREWING FOR GRAHAM, DYKSTRA?

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Former VCU shortstop Vimael Machin is playing for South Bend, the Chicago Cubs' 'A' affiliate in the Midwest League.

Former VCU shortstop Vimael Machin is playing for South Bend, the Chicago Cubs’ ‘A’ affiliate in the Midwest League.

VCU Athletics’ Mike Voyack had an opportunity to catch up with Treveon Graham recently, which isn’t easy, considering how well Graham moves for a man of his size. No matter, Voyack, camera in tow, wrangled Graham for an interview to update us on his pro prospects. Graham, you’ll remember, is coming off a solid performance with the San Antonio Spurs’ summer league teams in Utah and Las Vegas. Graham averaged 7.8 points and shot 46 percent for the Spurs in 10 games overall. From the sound of it, Graham will have options, and you shouldn’t be surprised if he ends up in an NBA training camp this fall.

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Meanwhile, it’s been somewhat of a breakout year for former VCU Soccer star and all-around good guy Andrew Dykstra. After years of bouncing around the MLS in Chicago and feeder leagues like the USL, Dykstra appears to have found comfort for D.C. United. Injuries have thrust him into a regular starting role and he’s been making the best of it. To wit, Dykstra was recently nominated for MLS “Save of the Week” for the third time (vote here).

D.C. United (12-7-5) currently sits in first place in the MLS’ Eastern Conference. The United are 3-3-1 with Dykstra in goal.

When he’s not busy making great saves, Dykstra is making great brews. Last year, D.C. Brau invited Dykstra to tour its brewery, and recently, D.C. United shared this video of Dykstra’s home brew operation.

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In baseball news, it appears that Vimael Machin, one of the stars of VCU’s recent NCAA Super Regional run, is settling in at the pro level. A 10th-round selection of the Chicago Cubs organization, Machin is currently playing for South Bend, the Cubs’ A-ball affiliate. Although Machin is still waiting for his signature swing to come around at the plate, he’s still flashing the glove.

Machin has already played third, short and second in his 21-game pro stint. He is hitting .186 in 80 at-bats.

GRAHAM IMPRESSES AS SPURS WIN SUMMER CROWN

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Treveon Graham scored 22 points to lead the Spurs to the NBA Las Vegas Summer League title Monday night.

Treveon Graham scored 22 points to lead the Spurs to the NBA Las Vegas Summer League title Monday night.

Treveon Graham made his final case for an NBA training camp invitation Monday night in Las Vegas, when he pumped in 22 points and ripped three steals to help lead the San Antonio Spurs to a 93-90 win over the Phoenix Suns in the Summer League Championship Game.

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Graham finished the game 7-of-11 from the floor, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range. He participated in San Antonio’s summer league teams in both Utah and Las Vegas and averaged 7.8 points while shooting 46 percent from the field in 10 games. Did he impress the Spurs brass enough? We’ll see, but it should be noted that Graham has been party to Atlantic 10, Portsmouth Invitational (plus MVP honors) and NBA Summer League championships since March. It’s funny how some guys are always on teams that win, isn’t it?

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HEY, THOSE GUYS LOOK FAMILIAR

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Former VCU star Lanto Griffin (-12) won the Delta Dental Virginia State Open this weekend.

Former VCU star Lanto Griffin (-12) won the Delta Dental Virginia State Open this weekend.

We’ve officially reached summer’s angry phase in Richmond. The heat index is a billion right now, and my lawn melting. Local weathermen and women are warning people with beards – there are a healthy number of bearded folks in this town – against spending time outdoors, due to the high risk of spontaneous beard brush fires.

But it’s not all bad. As I hunkered down inside and reclined on a couch I fashioned from blocks of ice, I was able to follow the exploits of a handful of VCU alums who killed it this weekend.

First and foremost, Lanto Griffin, a former CAA Golfer of the Year for the Rams, ran away with the Virginia State Open Championship by six strokes this weekend. For his efforts Griffin (-12), who turned pro after graduating from VCU in 2010, pockets $6,300. Griffin opened the tournament with back-to-back rounds of 66 and 68 and took a 5-stroke advantage into Saturday’s final round. Griffin briefly saw his lead cut to three strokes Saturday, but recovered to win going away.

Meanwhile, former VCU Soccer standout Nate Shiffman enjoyed possibly the best moment of his young pro career Sunday when he scored the Richmond Kickers’ lone goal in the 84th minute against West Bromwich Albion from the English Premier League. Shiffman’s strike briefly tied the match, but West Brom answered in the 88th minute to secure a 2-1 win.

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Treveon Graham. You’ve heard of him, right? The Rams’ great continues to plug away for the Spurs in NBA Summer League action in Las Vegas. Playing time in summer league games can be all over the map, and Graham’s burn is no exception, but he did pick up 20+plus minutes in back-to-back games this weekend. On Sunday, Graham pumped in 12 points and corralled five rebounds in a summer league semifinal victory over Atlanta.

Graham is still trying to find the range from NBA 3-point range (shooting 22 percent), but his other metrics this summer have been pretty good. He’s averaging 6.2 points and 2.8 boards and shooting 42 percent overall for the Spurs in nine contests. Graham and the Spurs will play in the Las Vegas Summer League Championship Game against Phoenix Monday at 9 p.m. on NBATV.

THE RAM REPORT IS OUT NOW!
The latest edition of the Ram Report is online now! Check out a feature on VCU Basketball Coach Will Wade, not to mention stories on Olivia Sutton, the first lacrosse player in VCU history, and baseball’s connection to Puerto Rico. READ HERE.

RAMS GET HOT IN NBA SUMMER LEAGUES

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VCU alum Troy Daniels led Charlotte with 16 points and 14 rebounds Tuesday.

VCU alum Troy Daniels led Charlotte with 16 points and 14 rebounds Tuesday.

Two former VCU standouts tore it up in NBA Summer League action Tuesday. As if we had any doubt. You and I know what guys like Troy Daniels and Treveon Graham can do on the basketball court, but it’s nice for them to remind NBA eyeballs from time-t0-time.

Daniels and Graham are in very different situations. Daniels, who is open more often than 7-Eleven, has a guaranteed contract for this season and has a fairly secure roster spot. During Tuesday’s game with the Nets, Hornets’ GM Rich Cho said that Daniels would get minutes this season. Graham, on the other hand, is trying to channel his inner Troy Daniels by going from undrafted rookie to NBA veteran. He certainly helped himself Tuesday.

Daniels, who never averaged more than 3.3 rebounds per game in his VCU career, grabbed 14 caroms against the Nets in Orlando and scored 16 points in a 64-55 win. You might not have expected that, but you certainly counted on Daniels to light it up from 3-point land, and he did, knocking down 4-of-6 triples on the way to a 16-point effort.

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In three summer league games, Daniels is averaging a team-best 15.7 points, while shooting a robust 55 percent (11-of-20) from three. He’s also pulling down 7.7 rebounds per game, which is, if you don’t mind me saying, very Treveon Graham-like. Here’s Daniels’ postgame interview.

Just because, here’s a Troy Daniels highlight mix. Spoiler alert: copious amounts of 3-pointers.

Meanwhile, Graham, playing for the Spurs in the Utah Summer League, got busy Tuesday against the Jazz with 17 points in 21 minutes of burn. In two summer league games, Graham is averaging 10.5 points, while shooting 64 percent (7-of-11) from the field.

San Antonio already has a deep roster, especially with the additions of LaMarcus Aldridge and David West, but Graham certainly has the kind of attributes that seem to work in that organization. Right now, he’s trying to convince the Spurs that he either deserves a spot on the team as the third shooting guard behind Danny Green and Manu Ginobili (both established) or that he can hold his own as an undersized small forward amid a group that includes Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Anderson and Reggie Williams. Of that SF group, only Leonard is a lock. Marco Belinelli’s departure to Sacramento certainly opens the door a crack. Also, food for thought, this is probably Ginobili’s last season.

Graham and the Spurs will play again Thursday at 7 p.m. EST against the Celtics. That game will be broadcast on NBA TV.

 

 

WILL VEGAS SPUR GRAHAM TO NBA?

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CIb7jZCWoAA7wswTreveon Graham, the second-leading scorer in VCU Basketball history, is hoping to find a home in San Antonio, via Las Vegas.

Graham, who was not selected in Thursday’s NBA Draft, will play for the San Antonio Spurs NBA Summer League team in Las Vegas July 10-20. He hopes to follow a path to the similar to that of former Ram Troy Daniels, who was not drafted in 2013, but managed to garner the attention of teams while playing for Charlotte during the Las Vegas Summer League. Daniels, currently a member of the Charlotte Hornets, has also played for the Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves.

It’s unclear if Graham will also play in either the Orlando or Utah summer leagues, although it is not uncommon for a player to compete for multiple organizations during summer league season.

Below is the Spurs’ Vegas schedule, which strangely does not include the Carrot Top show at Luxor. But there’s still time. Meanwhile, NBATV will broadcast tons of summer league action again this year. The network has not published a schedule beyond July 11, but expect most, if not all, of Graham’s games with the Spurs to be broadcast.

UPDATE: Juvonte Reddic has announced he’ll play for the Brooklyn Nets’ summer league team in Las Vegas. I’ve updated the schedule with Brooklyn’s games. Reddic spent last season playing for two different teams in Italy.

UPDATE #2: I can’t update this post quickly enough. Bradford Burgess, who has been playing professionally in Belgium and Italy the last few years, as signed on to the Miami Heat’s summer team. He will play in both Orlando and Las Vegas.

The schedule below has been updated. Again.

VCU IN THE NBA SUMMER LEAGUE (All times listed as EST)

ORLANDO
Saturday, July 4
Miami vs. Indiana, 9 a.m. – NBATV

Sunday, July 5
Miami vs. Brooklyn, 5 p.m. – NBATV

Monday, July 6
Miami vs. Detroit, 5 p.m. – NBATV

Wednesday, July 8
Miami vs. L.A. Clippers, 5 p.m. NBATV

Friday, July 10
Championship

LAS VEGAS
Saturday, July 11
New York vs. San Antonio (Thomas & Mack Center), 4:30 p.m. – NBATV
Brooklyn vs. Cleveland (Cox Pavilion), 10 p.m.
Miami vs. Utah (Thomas & Mack Center), 10:30 p.m. – NBATV

Sunday, July 12
Milwaukee vs. San Antonio (Thomas & Mack Center), 6:30 p.m. – NBATV

Monday, July 13
New Orleans vs. Brooklyn (Thomas & Mack Center), 4:30 p.m.
Miami vs. Denver (Cox Pavilion), 8 p.m.

Tuesday, July 14
Portland vs. San Antonio (Cox Pavilion), 3 p.m.
Brooklyn vs. Chicago (Cox Pavilion), 5 p.m.
Miami vs. Boston (Cox Pavilion), 7 p.m.

July 15-20
Playoffs

SENIOR SITDOWN (THE FUTURE’S SO BRIGHT, BRI’S GOTTA WEAR SHADES)

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We recently had the opportunity to sit down with graduating VCU seniors Treveon Graham, Briante Weber and Jarred Guest to shoot a sort of all-encompassing video that looks back on their careers, as well as to the future. You’re going to have to commit roughly the same amount of time you would into watching a “Big Bang Theory”, but it’s worth it. In the past, you’ve only gotten snippets of what these guys were like, but here, you get a feel for them as people as never before. Let Briante Weber entertain you one more time.

PORTLAND NOTES: RUSSELL OFFICIALLY CRAFTY, BROOKS BREAKS OUT FOR VCU

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Ohio State freshman D'Angelo Russell is averaging 19.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game this season.

Ohio State freshman D’Angelo Russell is averaging 19.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game this season.

PORTLAND, Ore. – Much of the talk surrounding VCU’s NCAA Tournament Round of 64 match-up with Ohio State has centered on Buckeyes’ star guard D’Angelo Russell, and for good reason.

Russell, a 6-foot-5 freshman, was recently named All-America by the United States Basketball Writers Association. The Louisville, Kentucky native ranks first nationally among freshmen in scoring (19.3 ppg) and is third in assists (168). Should he declare this spring, Russell is likely a top-five NBA Draft pick. NBADraftExpress.com has him third in its most recent mock draft.

VCU’s game plan will likely dedicate a chunk of attention to slowing down Russell, who has shown little difficulty adjusting to college basketball. A deft ball handler, Russell has also hit 90 three-pointers this year and leads Ohio State in rebounding (5.6 rpg). But it’s his passing skills that have people talking. From one-handed, laser bounce feeds to eye-popping spin passes in traffic, Russell’s vision, and the ability to get the ball into small spaces makes him especially dangerous.

VCU’s Michael Gilmore can vouch for Russell’s skills. They were AAU teammates with Each1 Teach1 in Florida. Gilmore soon realized that Russell wasn’t like other point guards.

“There would be times [in the huddle] where he’d just yell at me, roll, roll, roll after I set screens for him because after a couple of times where I didn’t think I was open,” Gilmore said. “I started trusting him with it. He’s a very good passer.”

Gilmore also has first-hand knowledge of how Russell’s scoring and passing ability play off of each other.

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FIXED IN A SNAP; RAMS FULFILL PROMISE TO FALLEN STAR

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VCU senior Briante Weber celebrates after the Rams topped Dayton 71-65 for the Atlantic 10 Championship.

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Amid the chaotic celebration, Briante Weber hobbled over to the ladder. With the help of his teammates, he ascended toward the rim for the first time in weeks, and snipped the last remaining loop of the net. With the snap of the scissors, he freed the net from the metal rim and officially cut VCU loose of its late-season quagmire.

Weber’s symbolic act punctuated a dizzying VCU sprint to its first Atlantic 10 Championship. The Rams, preseason favorites relegated to the No. 5 seed after losing six of their final 11 regular season games, shocked the league with four wins in four days to claim the title. The final victory came Sunday, as the Rams held off Dayton 71-65 in a thrilling A-10 Championship Game at Barclays Center.

At the final buzzer, Weber, his right knee immobilized following season-ending knee surgery, hopped to midcourt to celebrate before breaking down in tears as he was mobbed by teammates.

It capped a week that redefined VCU’s season. Last week, the Rams were a team struggling to find an identity in the long shadow cast by Weber’s Jan. 31 torn ACL. For four years he had been the engine of VCU’s high-energy brand of basketball and the emotional backbone of the program. But as abruptly as Weber’s career was cut tragically short, VCU found its championship form.

“Words really can’t explain how proud I am of these guys,” said Weber, the first player to win three A-10 Defensive Player of the Year awards. “It’s been an emotional roller coaster for us, when I went out with an injury, and then us winning, losing, everybody hopping off the bandwagon and so forth.

“But just know behind closed doors we had our talks and all our emotional stuff; when we step in between those lines, from March to the last bit of February, we kind of found ourselves again and that’s what we need to keep building on that right now.”

Weber’s loss was devastating to VCU, which was ranked 14th at the time. But Sunday’s victory – one that seemed improbable as recently as Wednesday – allowed the Rams fulfill a promise they made to their fallen point guard.

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A-10 CHAMPIONSHIP VIDEO ROUND-UP

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