Sumner High School, 1969
Paul Graham admits that he was not thought of as the student “most likely to succeed” during high school. But thanks to his coaches who mentored him, and the neighborhood boys who challenged him during pickup games on the Dunbar Elementary School playground, today his name is well-known in college basketball circles.
For the past 30 years, Graham has been a college basketball coach, serving as a positive role model to young boys around the nation. He started his college coaching career at Southern Methodist University in 1982, and since then has coached at the University of New Mexico, Oklahoma State University, Washington State University, the University of Colorado and Georgia State. He has worked with some of the best in college coaching, including Eddie Sutton, Bill Self and Dave Bliss.
Like most young boys who have a passion for basketball, Graham had visions of playing in the NBA someday. His high school track coach helped him get a scholarship to North Texas State and his coach there influenced him to get his teaching certification. He went on to teach and coach at the high school level for eight years before advancing to the college level.
His coaching philosophy is “give me what you got” and as long as players do that, he believes they will feel good about themselves.
He grew up with no father and his mother died when he was nine. So Graham was raised by his aunt and grandmother who taught him to be strong and that if he wanted something, he had to work for it. He got his first job in a restaurant at the age of 12.
He is grateful to all the positive role models he has had throughout his life
“You’re blessed with a gift and you have to be around somebody who can upwrap that gift,” he said. “Everybody needs a coach.”