Don’t Call It A Comeback
Torian Graham makes his return to Word of God
In today’s age of high school hoops, it’s become a common thing for an elite player to transfer at least once during his high school career. Whether it be for better competition on the court, to focus on the books, or a combination of both, seeing a play all four years at the same school is becoming almost a rarity. To put things in perspective, seven of the top 10 players in SLAM’s rankings for 2012 have jumped schools—6-4 shooting guard Torian Graham has done the same.
Like many of his fellow Fresh 50 classmates, Graham has seen his fair share of transfers. In the last 18 months alone, he was committed to or made brief stops at Oak Hill Academy, Word of God, Pace Academy in Chapel Hill, Hillside High School (his home public school) in Durham, Arlington Country Day in Florida, and now at Christian Faith Center Academy in Creedmoor, NC.
You’d think with bouncing around like a ping-pong ball like that, it wouldn’t matter much about his return game to one of the schools that he didn’t even spend a full year at; Wrong. After his transfer from Word of God and leading up to the game, plenty of ish has been talked on Twitter and the setting was already made for a hype game.
With a near sold out crowd, the game was live from before it even tipped. Word of God’s shoebox gym probably holds 500 people tops, so there was definitely a bit of a must in the gym with everyone crammed like sardines. Odor aside, it was a great placed for any basketball lover to watch some great young talent given that there were potentially 10 DI players on the two teams combined.
The game was very much an up-and-down affair with both teams showing mad intensity. The continuity wasn’t quite what you’d hope to see out of either side, but beggars can’t be choosers. Word of God walked away with the 79-77 W and here are some of the top guys who did their thing:
Torian Graham, 6-4, SG, CFCA, 2012
Finishing with 21 points but catching an L, you could say that it was a bittersweet homecoming for Graham. He made the game-tying three with around 28 seconds left, only to then steal the inbounds pass and barely miss a Blake Griffin-esque reverse throw-dunk that would have been the fairytale ending. The former NC State verbal had a number of dunks in transition and showed mad promise on the defensive end with the way he jumped the passing lanes. There’s still some work that needs to be done chemistry wise at his new home, but that hasn’t stopped NC State, Pitt, Syracuse, Xavier, and Oregon from putting the full court press on him recruiting wise.
Josh Newkirk, 6-2, PG, Word of God, 2013
Considered by many to be North Carolina’s top point guard in the junior class, Newkirk did everything in his power to live up to his rep and more by pouring in 25 points in the win. Rocking an improved J, the athletic playmaker was impossible to stay in front of when he went to work at the top of the key and made some nice decisions when running the offense. To top it off, he made a crucial three and the game-winning layup with 7 seconds left. Already sporting offers from NC State and Indiana for a hot second now, Georgia Tech just put a scholly on the table while Ohio State and Xavier have also began showing Newkirk some love as of late.
Damon Harge, 5-4, PG, CFCA, 2018
Yes, you read that right… he is a sixth grader playing varsity basketball. We’ll soon have a feature on him. He’s the same kid who has drawn over 5,000,000 views on YouTube, mostly from this video from our friends at CityLeagueHoops. After putting 21 and 8 dimes on Word Of God’s JV while playing the entire game, Coach Williams opted to hold him out of the varsity game. In the JV game, he was absolutely dominant. Obviously given his lack of size, it was tough for him to score in the paint against WOG’s massive 6-7 center, but he showed a basketball IQ and court awareness just as high as any guy playing in the varsity game. It’s super early, but any hoopheads in the Raleigh/Durham area should definitely make the journey to Creedmoor to see a player who could be the next big one out of the area.
Jaquon Brownridge, 6-3, SG, Word of God, 2013
Finishing the game with 23 points, Brownridge was a guy who put in just as much work as many of the guys who receive more pub than him. The junior wing surprised many with his advanced mid-range game and athleticism, including four dunks in transition. There’s a lot of potential there for Brownridge and he’s definitely a guy who we’ll be keeping an eye on for the remainder of his HS career.
DaShaun Griffin, 6-5, SF, CFCA, 2014
It’s easy to forget that you’re looking at a sophomore when watching Griffin (who looks like he’s 25 years old) out on the court with his strength and intensity based play. The 6-5 small forward kept the D honest with his perimeter game, knocking down a pair of smooth looking threes. CFCA is on the map to stay, and expect Griffin to be a key cog in their future for the next three years.
Jaylan Robertson, 5-10, PG, Word of God, 2014
After transferring from Clinton, to Clayton, and now to Word of God, Robertson has began to carve out his own niche in a loaded Word of God backcourt. The super athletic point guard narrowly missed a dunk that would have surely wound up on Hoopmixtape or Ballislife, but also played a floor game in which he showed off a really nice basketball IQ for a young playmaker. Sharing point guard duties with Josh Newkirk, he played off of the ball quite a bit and we were able to see what he was able to do as a scorer with his blazing first step. Just a sophomore, this is definitely a name to remember because he has a chance to blow up on the AAU circuit.