James Graham III, a forward rated as a four-star recruit, will graduate from high school early and be eligible to play for the Maryland basketball team this season, the school announced Friday. Graham signed with the Terps this month as part of the 2021 class, but he’ll instead arrive on campus during the 2020-21 season.

Graham will be on scholarship and available to play immediately once he passes all university health protocols, including coronavirus screening. Because the NCAA granted eligibility relief to winter-sport athletes, Graham will have four full seasons of eligibility after this year.

“I can’t wait to get to College Park and experience a new team, new coaches and new challenges,” Graham said in a statement released by the school. “I wanted to start early so I could maximize my abilities and get into the Maryland system. It’s all about competition for me.”

Maryland began its season Wednesday with a 85-67 win over Old Dominion and moved to 2-0 on Friday with an 82-52 victory over Navy. The Terps are set to start their conference schedule Dec. 14 against Rutgers, and Graham is expected to be available to play after the holiday break. Once Graham joins the team, the Terps will have nine new players on the roster — four scholarship freshmen, including Graham; two transfer forwards, Galin Smith from Alabama and Jairus Hamilton from Boston College; and three walk-ons.

Graham, a 6-foot-8 Milwaukee native, averaged 20.3 points and 6.6 rebounds for Wisconsin’s Nicolet High as a junior last year. He is rated the No. 52 player in the country by 247 Sports. In the site’s composite ratings, he’s No. 100. With coronavirus cases surging in Wisconsin, Graham said this month that he was unsure how the pandemic could affect his senior season.

The addition of Graham gives the Terps significant depth at power forward. Hamilton started at that spot in the season opener. Sophomore forward Donta Scott, the regular starter at that position last season, played 16 minutes against Old Dominion and scored a career-high 14 points.

“We’re looking forward to James joining our program early and getting a head start acclimating within our system and the weight room,” Coach Mark Turgeon said in a statement. “James is fully committed to finishing his high school education this semester and will join us at a later date to be announced. We can’t wait to have him in College Park.”

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