Graham develops into reliable scorer for college team
Larenzo Graham of Fairbanks didn’t want to be one of those players when he got to college. So he kept his head down and waited for his opportunity.
Once he got it at the end of last season, he didn’t miss.
Now he’s the leading scorer for West Valley College and one of the top shooting guards in the California Community College Athletic Association.
The 6-foot-1 sophomore is averaging 15 points on 42 percent shooting in 14 games this season, keyed by a career-high 31 points against Sisklyous and 28 against both Monterey and Skyline.
“All the time I spent here at West Valley College has helped me develop my basketball IQ and skills,” Graham told me. “I give all the credit to my head coach Scott Eitelgeorge. He’s probably the most demanding coach I’ve ever had. In the end, he knows his stuff so I can’t do anything but have respect for him.”
Graham, 20, is a bright spot on a struggling team, so each time he takes the court he faces a defense designed to shut him down. He has made a 3-pointer in 15 consecutive games.
It wasn’t always like that, though.
He’s worked hard to become the player he is today. Here is a closer look at how his scoring average has progressed:
First half last year 7.6
Second half last year: 12.3
First half this year: 15.1
Graham said maturity, confidence and unselfishness are big parts of his game.
“I’ve learned that I won’t do everything well on any given night but that doesn’t mean I can’t contribute in other ways,” he said.
The 3-point shot is his greatest weapon. When he gets hot, he gets hot, like 11-for-12 hot, the kind of stretch he got on last year. He’s shooting 40 percent for his college career.
“My coaches and teammates are what give me confidence,” he said. “Even when I miss a shot I should make they keep giving me the ball and calling plays for me. It’s sort of reassuring in a way.”