An ‘interesting fact’ involving March Madness veteran & Kansas star Devonte’ Graham

Former Kansas point guard/six-year NBA veteran Devonté Graham recently was stumped when asked by a San Antonio Express-News sports writer to identify which active NBA player has scored the most career points in the NCAA Tournament.

Graham, a 29-year-old reserve with the San Antonio Spurs, was shocked to learn it was indeed Graham himself who tops the list with 207 points in 15 tourney games played from the 2014-15 season through KU’s Final Four campaign of 2017-18.

“It’s an interesting fact,” Graham told Jeff McDonald of the Express-News. “I think it’s because a lot of these guys didn’t play college. I don’t know if it’s really a big deal or not. It’s news to me. That’s another bonus for me I guess.”

Graham scored seven more points in his NCAA appearances than former UCLA player Jaime Jaquez of the Miami Heat, who scored 200 points in the postseason. Former Duke player Grayson Allen of the Phoenix Suns scored 195 tourney points. Former Oklahoma standout Buddy Hield of the Philadelphia 76ers scored 190 points and former Kentucky/UCLA player Johnny Juzang of the Utah Jazz tallied 174 tourney points.

Graham’s KU teams had great success, compiling an 11-4 record in the NCAA Tournament. KU went 1-1 in the tourney during Graham’s freshman season, then went 3-1 the next two seasons, losing in the Elite Eight to Villanova and Oregon. His senior year, KU fell to Villanova in the Final Four semifinals.

“Besides getting whooped by Villanova (95-79), I had a great time,” Graham told the Express-News, referring to a trip to San Antonio for the 2018 Final Four. “My family was here. It was my first time going to the River Walk. The whole Final Four experience, the week heading into it, all the festivities, it was great.”

A popular interview especially at NCAA tourney time, Graham was asked this week on the Bally Sports San Antonio/Spurs Live pregame TV show to predict which college team would emerge victorious in 2024. Upcoming semifinal matchups are: North Carolina State vs. Purdue and UConn vs. Alabama.

“Since ‘Rock Chalk’ is done, I’ll go with the home team, N.C. State. They are hot. I’m going to ride with N.C. State,” said Graham, who hails from Raleigh, North Carolina, home of the Wolfpack.

Graham says he understands “the pressure, the stakes, the excitement” current Final Four participants are feeling as Saturday’s semifinal contests near.

“Watching ESPN, seeing all the fans and everybody waiting, the DMs (direct messages on social media) and all that kind of stuff ... just trying to go after that one thing that everybody wants, which is that title,” Graham told Bally Sports TV.

“They (current college players) know the stakes that it comes with. All those guys in college want to be where we are right now, sitting here. The better you play in that tournament the greater the chances of you getting drafted.”

Graham, who has also played for Charlotte and New Orleans in his first six years in the NBA, said he’s pleased he elected to play four seasons in college, which meant competing in four NCAA tournaments.

“It was my route I had to take. I had to go to prep school. I did five years of high school technically, just developing my game, getting better each year, trying to develop into being the best NBA player I could be,” Graham said.

It seems NBA players, at least the ones who played college basketball, follow the NCAAs closely.

“I owe Zach $100,” Graham told the Express-News. He was referring to Spurs teammate Zach Collins, who played at Gonzaga, the team that eliminated KU in the second round of the 2024 NCAAs.

“Just a friendly 100,” Collins told the newspaper of the wager.

Collins was impressed when told by the Express-News Graham is the top scorer in tourney history of all active NBA players.

“Good for him. That’s a lot of buckets, man,” Collins said.

Graham has had a puzzling season with the Spurs.

After being a regular rotation player his first five seasons in the league, he’s appeared in just 17 games in 2023-24 with the Spurs. That’s despite having a contract that pays him $12,100,000 this season and $12,650,000 in 2024-25. He is guaranteed $2,850,000 in 2024-25. His contract becomes fully guaranteed if not waived by July 1.

Graham has averaged 3.4 points a game in limited action this season. For his career, he’s averaged 11.1 points per game, including 13.3 ppg over his three years in Charlotte.

Nonetheless Spurs coach Gregg Popovich recently said Graham is a team leader for a young, rebuilding squad that has an 18-58 record.

“We’ve had to compliment him a couple of times, just because we understand he’s got to be extremely frustrated not playing,” Popovich told “But he practices hard. He’s up off the bench with his teammates. He’s very respected.”

Of being a leader, Graham said: “I’m just doing what I’ve always done. Under (KU coach) Bill Self … he taught me a lot of different ways of being a leader. He taught me it’s not always on the court or when things are going well. Not playing and going through that, you’ve still got to be a leader to those young guys.

“Those guys look up to me every day, and my energy and light I shine on people, I try to take that with me at all times. Whether it’s going good or bad you’ve got to keep these guys’ spirits up. It’s been a rough season. Every day we try to come out and get better.”