Tyree Graham looks to wrap up winding career at UNCW

Evan Edwards | Contributing Writer

When it comes to playing basketball, Tyree Graham has been doing it for as long as he can remember.

“When I was about two years old, my dad brought a basketball in my crib,” Graham said. “Ever since then I’ve just always played basketball.”

When it comes to playing Division One basketball, this is not Tyree Graham’s first rodeo.

Coming out of high school in 2008, Graham attended Texas Tech University. It is there where he played for legendary coach Bob Knight’s son, Pat Knight.

“It was a great experience,” Graham said. “I learned so much from them. Those guys dissect basketball down to the T. It’s unbelievable how much knowledge I gained from them.”

After one season with the Red Raiders, Graham transferred to Brunswick Community College where he teamed up with current Seahawk Marcus Graham. “Marcus is like a brother to me,” Graham said, although they are not related. The two were able to carry their team to a trip to the junior college national tournament, and Tyree is certainly excited for another chance to team up with Marcus.

“The guy can definitely play,” he said. “He was a big part of our success in junior college and I look forward to us bringing more success here to Wilmington.”

In 2010, Graham decided to take his talents to the prestigious Big East conference and attend Rutgers University. Playing in the Big East, you have to be ready to compete against the best talent in college basketball on a nightly basis. The conference is constantly referred to as the best, most competitive group of teams in the entire country.

“Being there to experience the great guards like Kemba Walker, Maalik Wayns, Corey Fisher, and those types of guys was incredible,” Graham said. “Seeing how they battle every night, all you can do is learn.”  

During his time at Rutgers, Graham was unlucky enough to be bitten by the injury bug both years he was there and never actually got to play. In 2010, Graham suffered a torn ACL that kept him sidelined the entire season. In 2011, he ruptured his Achilles tendon which forced him to miss another season.

Rather than use these injuries as excuses, Graham turned them into motivation and maintains an optimistic mindset.

“Everything that happened with those injuries got me to this point right now, and I’m blessed to be here,” said Graham. “I look at everything as a positive. There are no negatives.”

After earning his bachelor’s degree from Rutgers this past summer, Graham still knew he had one to two years of eligibility left and some unfinished business on the court. After weighing his options and narrowing his list of graduate schools down to a few, Graham decided to come to UNCW.

“To be able to play for a coach like Buzz Peterson, who has taken knowledge from Dean Smith, one of the best coaches of all time,” Graham said. “To know a guy like that could be somebody I would be learning from… I just had to take this opportunity.”

While Graham is very excited with his chance to suit up for the Seahawks, Seahawk fans should be more excited about actually getting to see him play.

“I like to score,” Graham said. “I think that’s something I’m really blessed with is being able to put the ball in the basket. I’m looking forward to scoring for this team and helping this team get more wins.”

Scoring isn’t the only thing fans can expect to see out of Graham.

“You can expect to see some lobs from me to Rendleman, me to Cedric Williams, Freddie Jackson,” he said. “We have a lot of high flyers on this team.”

The Seahawks have been picked to finish dead last in the CAA conference, but that doesn’t exactly have Graham lacking confidence.

“I feel like we will be very good,” Graham said. “I am offended by being picked to finish last in the conference, but at the same time, I’m ready to show the CAA and the whole country that we will be respected in Wilmington.”