By Greg Price: CNJ Sports Writer
Carroll Graham, chairman of the AAU girls basketball national committee and a former Clovis High and Yucca Junior High girls basketball coach, was inducted into the AAU Hall of Fame in October.
Graham, 78, has headed the committee since 1991.
He lived and coached in Clovis from 1960 to 1990, and played a prominent role in introducing girls AAU basketball to the Clovis area in 1981.
He was known as a great teacher of the game, with students eager to move on to the next grade just to have Graham as their coach, according to Rachelle Baker, who played for Graham in Clovis and is also on the national basketball committee.
“He’s the type of person who wanted every girl he coached to succeed,” Baker said. “And he’ll do anything in his power to make that happen.”
A resident of Altus, Okla., Graham said his journey to coaching was a natural progression.
“That was my life,” Graham said. “To me it’s a form of directing the youngsters that I could reach and try to get them to go down the right path.”
His rise to the top at the AAU started in West Texas and in Clovis.
Wanting to coach year-round, Graham said in 1981 he combined the Yucca team with sophomores from Clovis for an AAU summer tournament. From there, his relationship with the AAU only grew stronger.
Graham brought three AAU national tournaments to Clovis in 1984, 1987 and 1992.
Graham is passionate about his work, and said he believes he is serving the greater good.
“Last summer, we had 120,000 girls in tournaments across the country,” he said. “I thought that was 120,000 girls who were not on the street.”