Recruiting Guy:

Preps coach mentors Dallas junior

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Friday, March 20, 2020

Some old school coaches have had to adjust their ways in a highly sensitive society.

A self-professed old-school coach, Paul Graham of Dallas Skyline hasn't changed his demanding ways, and junior forward Ed'Xavier Rhodes has been a beneficiary.

Ed’Xavier Rhodes highlights arkansasonline.com/320rhodes

"It's hard," Rhodes said. "He builds me up in life and in basketball. He doesn't just coach me in basketball, he coaches me how to handle adversity outside of basketball. I've learned mostly how to be a man and how to compete with top level competition. It gets me better."

Rhodes, 6-9, 200 pounds, has scholarship offers from Kansas, Texas A&M, TCU and others while drawing strong interest from the University of Arkansas.

Graham was a college coach for 30 years as an assistant at Oklahoma State, New Mexico, SMU, Colorado and Georgia State, along with being the head coach at Washington State from 1999-2003.

College coaches know Graham's players will be college ready.

"A lot of coaches feel like if you'll play for me, I'll have you ready as far as the hard work, discipline and the demands," Graham said.

He let Rhodes know early what to expect.

"When he first got here as a freshman, I sat him down and talked to his parents and let them know what I've done and where I've been," Graham said. "That doesn't make me God, but I'm not telling you something that I read in a book or Googled on the internet. I've been there, and this is what it takes. If you want to get there that's my job to help you get there. I'm going to be hard on you, but I'm going to be hard on you for a reason."

Graham's background holds weight with Rhodes.

"Coach Graham has been [on] the college level, so I know what he has to say won't hurt me but will get me better," Rhodes said.

Rhodes' skill set and athleticism give him a chance to be special.

"He runs like a deer, he's left-handed and he's skilled," Graham said. "He can handle the ball like a guard. He can shoot. He can shoot threes as well as anybody. His best asset is he's long, athletic and skilled."

Graham calls Rhodes a "great kid."

"He's like other kids that age; he needs guidance and that's my job," Graham said. "Winning another state championship or another game isn't going to be what I'll be judged on. My job is to give him some guidance."

He has long standing relationships with Arkansas assistants Chris Crutchfield and Corey Williams, who played and coached at Oklahoma State.

"Corey was with me at Oklahoma State when I was there," Graham said.

Graham, who coached Kansas guard and ESPN Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Garrett, has talked up Rhodes to the Razorback assistants.

Rhodes is determined to be successful in the sport he loves so much.

"Growing up, I always watched my older brother play basketball," said Rhodes, who plans to play for the Dallas Mustangs on the Adidas circuit. "Since he didn't make it, I want to do it for my family. I love the game so much now. I can't survive one day without basketball."

Email Richard Davenport at rdavenport@arkansasonline.com

Sports on 03/20/2020

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