Next Up: Jayvon Graves

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The 2020 NBA draft class is predicted to be one of the weakest classes in recent memory. However, there are some interesting prospects in this class such as Buffalo guard Jayvon Graves. Graves is the most underrated guard in this years class. I spoke with him about his decision making process on declaring for the draft, his relationship with Errick and CJ McCollum, what separates him as a prospect and much more.

Talk about how competitive the Mid-American Conference is?

“It’s a really competitive conference. It has a lot of good guards. A lot of the guys that were on first-team All-MAC and even on the second-team were guards. So it’s competitive day-in and day-out. The top teams can lose to the bottom teams and when you play on the road it makes it even harder.”

Talk about your role change as a player and stepping into a leadership role as a leader with five guys and your head coach from a year ago leaving the program?

“I knew we were losing a lot of guys and I knew my role would be bigger. So when coach (Nate) Oats left for Alabama, I had a lot of conversation with our new coach, coach (Jim) Whitesell. We talked about my role and me being an alpha and just being a leader. I think my mindset is what set me apart this year. I went into the season knowing what I needed to do and just stepping up out there on or off the floor.”

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Why did you declare for the draft and what was the process in making that decision? 

“We figured out, my coaches and family, decided that with the season I had and the way I play, the league would fit me well. It was a good opportunity for me to get my name out there and see what organizations think. I really want to work out for teams and hopefully, the process speeds up. That’s one of the difficult things right now. Not knowing if the draft is going to be pushed back or not. But I feel like once I get to the workouts, I can show more of what I can do.

Do you model your game after anybody? You remind me of Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum.

“I like watching both of them and I like watching Bradley Beal. I watch Bradley Beal and C.J. McCollum videos before every game. I am pretty cool with C.J. McCollum as he is from 15 minutes from my hometown. So I text him before games and things like that to get feedback on what I should do on ball screens and things like that. 

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What’s the best advice CJ McCollum has given you about life or basketball?

“Always get reps at game speed and keep working hard. Keep working on the pull-up game and see how I’m using my stepbacks. His brother, Errick McCollum, who’s an overseas vet and I talk to more. He had given me a lot of advice about basketball, like reading screens and some more about life and how you never know who’s watching. Kids look up to me so I always need to represent myself well.”

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What separates you from other guards in this class?

“I think my versatility, whether that’s scoring or defending such as getting steals or blocking shots. Also my rebounding. I had a couple games over 10 rebounds. I also can be a playmaker for others so all that should go into consideration. I think my scoring ability is what people think I could do, but this year I think I showed I could make plays for others. Coach put me in a lot of good positions whether that’s coming off of ball screens or on ball screens.”

What is something you need to improve on before working out with teams?

“I really want to show them that I can (run) the point guard position more. All my previous years we have had a lot of point guards so I would usually play off the ball. But this year I showed I could play the point and want to show my versatility as a guard. Also, I want to work on my quickness with and without the ball. 

What part of your game do you think will translate the best to the next level.

“I think my scoring and shooting ability. Also my versatility getting others involved and attacking the glass. I think a lot of teams can use a guard that can rebound and start the break right away. I think that will translate really well.

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Talking about adding on weight and how that will help you in the NBA.

“I hit the weight room a lot more seriously coming into this season and I can see it already helped me. It will help me guard bigger players and fight off contact.

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