Graham departs university basketball with FISU swan song

The Gaels graduate contributed to a solid showing by Canadian universities at the international Universiade 

Graham's versatility—and verticality—got him to Italy.

Over the course of July, Queen’s Tanner Graham represented Canada and the Gaels in Naples, Italy, as he competed in the International University Sports Federation (FISU) Summer Universiade. 

The biennial multi-sports event gathers star university athletes from all over the world to compete in their respective disciplines. 

“I felt honoured to be able to represent Queen’s. It was a once in a lifetime experience to wear a Canada jersey and this experience was only made possible through my development at Queen’s,” Graham said in an interview with The Journal. 

Graham was one of seven Gaels to participate in the games, with Queen’s athletes from the basketball, soccer, volleyball, and cross-country teams also making the journey to Italy. 

“I think that’s a reflection of how great our athletic department is,” Graham said. 

Canadian men’s basketball ended the tournament with a 4-2 record, landing them a sixth-place finish—their best showing to date.

As for the Canadian women’s team, they opened the games with a setback to China, and then losses to Australia, Finland, and Slovakia. However, the women managed to end the games on a high note with back to back wins against Argentina and Mexico. 

This year’s games included more than 9,300 athletes from over 128 countries. 

In 2017, the Canadian men finished in 16th place in Taipei, China. Overall, Canada took home 13 medals (four gold, five silver and four bronze) at the last Universiade.

It took more than talent to get Graham to Naples.

The Gaels star had to crowdfund in order to afford to represent Canada, and the basketball community came together in a big way. Graham’s gofundme page was shared nearly 200 times and raised $3,470 to subsidize travel costs.

The now-graduated star forward leaves Queen’s with a strong legacy. Graham was on the OUA all-rookie team, and started every game in the 2017-2018 season on his way to an OUA third-team all-star selection.

This past season was perhaps his best. Graham racked up 15.6 points per game, 8.1 rebounds per game and 3.1 assists per game, but his biggest moment was off the court, where he was named the winner of the USPORTS Ken Shields Award for his great play coupled with his remarkable contributions to his community.

Graham’s departure is sure to leave a hole in the men’s basketball team and Queen’s Athletics as a whole. 

However, being finished at Queen’s doesn’t spell the end of Graham’s career. He will be continuing to play in Germany, lacing up for the Tübingen Tigers of the ProA league.

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