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Kansas nabs replacement for Naadir Tharpe as Devonte Graham commits

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

It took merely one day for Kansas to find an heir apparent for Naadir Tharpe after the starting point guard revealed he intended to transfer.

Better yet, the Jayhawks may even have upgraded in the process.

Brewster Academy's Devonte Graham, the best available point guard in the Class of 2014, committed to Kansas on Friday, selecting the Jayhawks over runner-up NC State. Graham will likely compete with sophomores-to-be Frank Mason and Conner Frankamp for the starting point guard job.

Graham's commitment to Kansas is the culmination of a lengthy saga that began when he attempted to back out of a commitment to Appalachian State last year after a better-than-expected senior season raised his stock in the eyes of college coaches. Former Appalachian State coach Jason Capel refused to let him out of his letter of intent, which meant Graham could have no direct contact with college coaches during his prep school season at Brewster Academy.

By the time Appalachian State fired Capel and at last freed Graham from his letter of intent last month, Graham had emerged as a consensus top 75 recruit nationally and high-major programs lined up for the chance to recruit the point guard. Kansas and NC State emerged as the finalists out of a group of contenders that included Virginia, Virginia Tech, Cincinnati, Creighton and Xavier.

The addition of Graham is timely for Kansas now that Tharpe has transferred.

A reserve his first two seasons behind Tyshawn Taylor, Tharpe inherited the starting job as a junior but was inconsistent. The 5-foot-11 guard briefly lost his job to Mason in early December, regained it with sporadic good performances in Big 12 play and finished with a whimper, going 6 of 24 from the field in Kansas' final five games and finishing with as many turnovers as assists in a round of 32 NCAA tourney loss to Stanford.

Tharpe also did not endear himself to the Kansas coaching staff with an Instagram photo featuring a shirtless Tharpe and a partially nude woman that went viral in late March. Self told the Kansas City Star he was "extremely disappointed" in Tharpe's judgement afterward.

In light of all that, perhaps a fresh start at point guard will be a good thing for a Kansas program loaded at every other position.

Frankamp would bring outside shooting but his ability to drive and distribute is in question. Mason would bring an ability to attack the rim and set up his teammates but his outside shot is a liability.

And Graham could be the most gifted of the two after adding muscle at Brewster and showcasing the ability to sink shots from the perimeter or get to the rim. The question is whether he needs more seasoning or if he is ready to make an impact as a true freshman.

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Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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