For Calvert Hall power forward Jonathan Graham, the recruiting process was often an exercise in patience.
The 6-foot-8, 215-pound senior bypassed the fall signing period to see which schools came calling this season. Fall turned to winter and winter turned to spring, but Graham remained on the market, still waiting for the right program to emerge.
On Thursday, Graham finally found what he was looking for in a school. During an official visit to Penn State, he committed to the Nittany Lions. Calvert Hall coach John Bauersfeld said Graham will sign his letter of intent Friday.
"[Recruiting] was hanging over his head for awhile," Bauersfeld said. "He just didn't feel comfortable with different situations and offers that he did have. This is definitely a big relief to him and he feels really comfortable with his decision. He's excited at the same time as being relieved. ... He really liked the coaches when they met. He fell in love with the campus, and obviously playing in the Big Ten is really attractive to any kid. Penn State is a great school."
Graham picked the Nittany Lions over Duquesne. He also had an offer from Seton Hall before the Pirates' coaching change in March.A two-time All-Metro selection, Graham averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds this season, leading Calvert Hall to the Baltimore Catholic League championship. Graham, a four-year varsity player and three-year starter, finished his Calvert Hall career as the program's second-leading scorer with 1,670 points.
Bauersfeld said Penn State first started recruiting Graham during his junior season, and continued to express interest early last fall. The communication waned over the winter, but a Penn State coach touched base with Bauersfeld "about a month ago" to see if Graham was still available. Both parties remained interested, and the recruitment took off from there.
"They love his upside," Bauersfeld said. "They love the fact that he's very long. They love his skills for a big guy. They really liked his work ethic and personality-wise, he's a great kid and solid student. All those aspects they were really impressed with. I think that made Jon really attractive to them."
Over the past four years, Bauersfeld saw Graham transform himself from a talented freshman who got down on himself whenever he made a mistake to a confident senior who took younger players under his wing and showed them how to win. At Penn State, Bauersfeld thinks Graham has a chance to continue his basketball maturation.
"I think he'd be asked, as a younger player, not to do too much too soon," Bauersfeld said. "I think they're going to be really patient for him and let him develop his strength and those aspects. I think their style of play definitely fits with Jon's game. ... He's definitely gotten a lot better, became an excellent teammate and became a great leader for the younger guys. It's been really fun to watch him grow up in front of us."
Baltimore Sun photo of Jonathan Graham by Patrick Smith / Feb. 22, 2009