CHATHAM, NJ - When a parent agrees to foot the bill for a custom made size-18 basketball sneaker so his son can look cool, he hopes it will be a good investment.
It's safe to say that Jim LeMon got his money's worth watching his son, Graham, fill those big shoes this past basketball season.
But the season wasn't about the shoes, it was all about how well the 6-6, 290-pound Graham LeMon moved inside of them this season. A player who sat on the bench for most of his career, LeMon had a breakout senior year in which he was voted the MVP of the Morris County Tournament, was named to the All-Morris County Coaches' first team and, most recently, was selected as the MVP of the Chatham team.
"Graham had an outstanding season for us this year," Chatham coach Todd Ervin said. "His play on the court and his leadership off were instrumental in our success. He was a pleasure to coach and he will be hard to replace,"
Graham LeMon is the Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week.
In the fall, the two-way football lineman had shown his seriousness by getting in the best shape of his life, dropping 35 pounds entering his senior year. This winter, he showed that he's more than just what his nickname "Big" describes. He showed remarkable quickness for a player his size, often carrying Chatham in the biggest games of the season.
"It kind of gets hidden that I’m a good basketball player," LeMon said. "I was talking to Brian Monaghan (Morristown-Beard standout guard) and he said he couldn't believe that I could take one dribble and go from one elbow to the other side of the paint."
LeMon surprised a lot of people with how much he contributed to Chatham's run to a second straight MCT title and a third straight appearance in the state sectional final. After all, he had been sitting on the varsity bench and watching the likes of Colin McKenna, Stefan Goles and fellow senior John Burkard take his playing time for his first three seasons.
"It was kind of a relief to finally get my chance," LeMon said. "It felt really good going from a bench player for three years to being a starter and leader. I was fine with it, knowing how good those guys were. I learned a lot from them. Finally, it was my time to shine."
Early in the season, it looked like the guards were going to do most of the scoring for Chatham, led by Jack Rooney, Mac Bredahl and Johnny Maurer. But once LeMon began to assert himself offensively, things started to take shape for the Cougars.
"The first three games, we started off 2-1 and I was scoring under five points a game," LeMon said. "Then I scored 17 against Hanover Park and my teammates kind of realized that I could be a scorer. I didn’t feel right away I was going to step into a big role. What made it work was that we were always looking to pass to each other. As far as I was concerned, Rooney or Mac played great and could just as easily been named the team MVP."
For the season, LeMon scored 333 points, an average of 11.9 per game. He also connected on 58 percent of his shots from the floor, sinking 133 of 233 attempts. He also finished with 186 rebounds, 6.6 per game, and collected 30 assists and nine blocked shots."
LeMon is still trying to figure out what sport he'll continue playing in college, which he has yet to decide on. But his recent success on the basketball court has him leaning toward the hardwood.
"I have a love for the game and I'd hate to see it go," LeMon said.
Editor's note: The Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week is sponsored by the John Hawk Agency. John and his team have been protecting local families and business owners for over 12 years. Call them at 973-635-9494 for a new auto, home, life and business insurance quote this week and if you mention the Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week they will make a $20 contribution to the Chatham Booster Club! To learn more, visit the agency website.