Appalachian State men’s basketball coach Jason Capel will not allow Devonte Graham out of his National Letter of Intent in part because he believes North Carolina State has tampered with him according to an ESPN.com report on Sept. 28.
Graham, a 6-0 point guard out of Broughton High (N.C.) in Raleigh, N.C. signed the NLI with Appalachian State in November but told ESPN.com he asked out of his commitment seven months ago. He is currently enrolled at Brewster Academy (N.H.) for a year of postgraduate schooling. If Graham isn’t released from his commitment from Appalachian State, he will lose a year of eligibility and must sit out the 2014-15 or enroll in a junior college.
“I went on an official visit, loved it and loved the coaches at the time,” Graham said. “But then I realized I could play at a higher level.”
However, Capel, who is entering his fourth season as Appalachian State coach, hasn’t budged on his stance, and sources told ESPN.com that the staff believes tampering occurred by N.C. State.
“As our coaching staff fully expected, Devonte had a terrific senior season last winter and, accordingly, drew the interest of programs from what are widely recognized as power conferences,” the Appalachian State statement said. “However, due to his binding agreement with Appalachian State, other programs were not permitted by NCAA rules to contact him, be it directly or through people claiming to represent his interests.
“Due to our concerns that these rules were not followed and the fact that we had turned away all other potential student-athletes that could have capably filled his spot on the roster, we denied his request for a release from his binding letter of intent. We also made the NCAA aware of our concerns.”
N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried and Graham has denied any wrong doing by the Wolfpack.
“We absolutely didn’t tamper,” Gottfried told ESPN.com’s Andy Katz. “We had zero contact with the kid. He played with my son. I went out of my way not to [contact].”
Graham added he hadn’t had any conversations with Gottfried, whose son (Cam) also played for Broughton High last season, or anyone on NC State’s staff about joining the program after he signed with Appalachian State.
Unless released, Graham will not allowed to communicate with any college coaches until one year after the letter of intent expires.
Pittsburgh, Creighton, Butler, Providence and UConn have expressed interest in Graham, if he can get out of his commitment according to Brewster Academy head coach Jason Smith.
Prior to signing with Appalachian State, Graham also had offers from High Point, North Carolina-Wilmington, Rhode Island and Richmond. He is rated as a two-star prospect by ESPN Recruiting Nation.
Capel is 44-49 at Appalachian State.