Dee Graves takes her consistency to the coast

Fred McCormick
Black Mountain News

Ask anyone around the Warlassies basketball program about senior Dee Graves and they'll tell you the same thing: she's a leader and a consistent presence on the court. 

Following an April 20 ceremony in the Owen High gym, Graves will be taking those skills and more to the Cougars of Coastal Carolina Community College.

Graves, the second-leading scorer for the 20-7 Warlassies a season ago, played in 97 games during her four-year varsity career at Owen. During that time she scored 891 points and pulled down 711 rebounds. 

Dee Graves is joined by friends, teammates, family and coaches as she commits to play college basketball for Coastal Carolina Community College on April 20.

As a freshman, Graves led the team in scoring. The following season when Owen won 19 games and advanced to the second round of the state playoffs, she was one of only two Warlassies to average double-digit scoring.  

A knee injury prior to her junior season forced her to miss seven games. 

"I tore my ACL, and I was really worried," she said. "But my family, friends and teammates were really supportive, so I was able to get back out there in six months."

Surrounded by family, Owen senior Dee Graves signs a letter of intent to play college basketball for Coastal Carolina Community College on April 20.

Graves played in 19 games her junior season and was once again the team's second-leading scorer. Her numbers as a senior were once again among the best on the team, which won 20 games under first-year head coach Aaron Fernandez. 

"Dee's consistency is remarkable," Fernandez said. "She's such an even-keeled personality, so she doesn't get too high or too low. She just focuses on playing basketball."

The Coastal Carolina Community College Cougars are getting a "really versatile" player in Graves, Fernandez said. 

"She has got great length and athleticism," he said. "She's also started to develop her outside game as well, and she's the type of player who will show up and work."

Those were all qualities that CCCC head coach Frank Scutiere noticed when first saw her in action on the court. 

Dee Graves averaged over 9 points and 7 rebounds per game for the Warlassies as a senior.

"I feel very very lucky to have her and the skills she'll bring to our program," Scutiere said. "We're a relatively new program, so being able to get a player with Dee's skill level is a really big boost to our program."

Graves is excited to continue to play basketball beyond high school, she said. "It's something I've wanted to do since middle school," she said of the opportunity. "I honestly love this sport."

That passion makes her a "great teammate," according to Fernandez. 

"It doesn't matter if things are going well or not, she's always got a calm temperament," he said. "But she can be vocal, and she's honest if something's on her mind. She won't let things simmer; she'll speak up, but do it in a respectful way. That's what great teammates do."

Her high "basketball IQ" makes her a quick study, Fernandez said. Learning more about the game is what Graves is most looking forward to at the next level. 

"I know it's a different game at the college level," she said. "I think it would be a little more difficult, but I'll just have to work harder and compete."

Scutiere believes Graves can make a significant contribution to his program immediately. 

"She's the type of player we want to have to help us develop the culture of our program," he said. "Her leadership, her skills on the court and the fact that she's known as a great teammate make her everything we're looking for in a player."

Graves is the first player in Fernandez' brief head coaching career to sign to play college basketball. He called it a "proud moment" for him and the Warlassies program. 

He believes her smooth style of play and commitment to calmly go about her business on the court could eventually land her a spot at a four-year school. 

"It wouldn't surprise me one bit if she were to go to CCCC and continue to improve," he said. "We could see her on the court somewhere else when she's done there."