Bio: Graham arrived on the baseball scouting scene as a sophomore and quickly developed as one of the top arms in his class. Perfect Game ranks Graham a top 100 prospect (No. 83) in the high school senior class. He has competed on the highest levels nationally, as he was named to the Under Armour All-America Game and the AFLAC All-American Game, in addition to competing in the Area Code games and pitching with the Impact Baseball Dirtbag squad in top tournaments.
Recruitment: "Well, you know I am from Texas and I played with Dirtbags - Coach Andy Partin runs that team in North Carolina,” Graham said. “Out of the blue, one day he invited me to go and play a tournament with them and they are great people - all of them. I know Levi [Michael] and everybody that was already committed to [North Carolina]. I thought about it and talked with Coach Fox and Coach Forbes earlier on and it just kind of went well with them. I got called this fall - it was either September or October - and they talked with me about a rumor that I had already committed. That was not the case and they invited me to come down on an official visit. I had always heard that it was a class act program, school, coaches and pitching wise as well."
Despite strong interest from schools across the country, Graham committed to his first official scholarship offer, picking UNC over Texas A&M, Texas, Florida, LSU, Texas Tech, New Mexico State and Utah. "I actually did not get another on the table offer,” he said. “You go to the official visits and they give you the offer there. I got some pretty serious heat here for not picking a Texas school, but I have no problem with that. I am originally from New Mexico so I have never had the whole UT thing going with my family. So I was pretty open for wherever. I took an unofficial visit to Texas A&M and I liked it but it did not seem right and I was going to go to Texas on my unofficial visit but I did not mesh well with their coaching staff I guess you could say. I just felt North Carolina was the right fit."
Why Carolina?: "It was the combination of things - if I had to say one thing it would be the coaching staff and the ability to come in and play my freshman year,” Graham said. “That is kind of a big deal for me, would I be able to pitch and what would happen with that. "The people I met on campus - it just felt right. Chris Munnelly and Levi [Michael] and Chaz Frank - it just felt right joining them there and the new facility there, the coaching staff and the ability to pitch as a freshman."
Scouting Report: Graham has impressed scouts with his electric fastball that has been clocked as high as the mid-90s. He is primarily a power pitcher with a 3/4 arm slot, but has been working on a curveball in addition to a slider and a change-up to keep opposing batters off balance. According to an MLB scouting report, Graham needs to work on consistency with his secondary pitches along with working on consistency with his delivery.
Coach Quote: "His athleticism - he is a big power pitcher,” Oak Ridge coach Stacy Scheiner said. “He has been clocked at 96 this year. He normally pitches at 92-93 and his competitiveness - he is one of those guys that every coach loves to have, especially in high school ball. He is competitive and a leader. He is a wonderful kid to have on your staff. When he is not in the game he is great bench player and keeps the guys on the bench involved and into the game. He is a great kid that leads by example. I am glad to see him go to North Carolina. He is not afraid of hard work; without his hard work he would not be in the position that he is in now. He is very strong academically. You never have to worry about his grades - he always makes great grades."
"I think Matt could step right in an be an asset to the Carolina pitching staff next season,” Scheiner added. “I think Matt will do well in the ACC. It is hard to put into words - his maturity level and understanding of the game and being able to fill a role when he gets to Carolina. It is impressive to hear him talk about his goals and where he sees himself going. Making the transition to Division 1 will be easy for him with his experience in the AFLAC and Under Armour All-America games as well as the Area Code games."
Future Plans: "There are a lot of scouts at all of our games that Matt throws,” Scheiner said. "There are times that we have had from 15 to 20 up to 40 scouts in the stands there to watch Matt. He is very mature for high school - he has done a very good job handling the … well I would not necessarily call it pressure, but the publicity he has done an excellent job of handling that."
As one of the top arms in the 2009 high school ranks and a Top 250 draft prospect (No. 238) according to Perfect Game, the direct MLB route is a possibility. "It really just depends,” Graham said. “I will talk it over with my advisor and my parents, but right now that is just plan B. If [going pro] happens, great, but if not I am coming to North Carolina. That is what I am getting all set for - I am coming to North Carolina. In my eyes it would take me three years either way [to get to the big leagues]."