In the Justise Winslow: Eye on the Draft piece, we spoke about how coming from a bloodline of basketball players can help boost a player's draft stock. How about having an NBA dad, NBA brother, NBA uncle and another brother who plays pro in Europe?
That's the case for Notre Dame point guard Jerian Grant. His father Harvey played a decade in the NBA, mostly for the Bullets. One of his brothers is Jerami Grant, currently of the 76ers. The other, Jerai, plays professionally for a team out of Latvia. You may also remember his uncle, a 4-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls, Horace Grant.
With a long lanky 6'5" frame, Jerian can actually play either guard position. No one and done here, Grant has finished his senior year at Notre Dame and will be entering this year's draft as one of the top ranked guards. Very strong for a primary ballhandler, he has no problem getting in the lane and does not shy away from contact. His jump shot isn't flawless, but Grant sports a smooth stroke and sets his feet well before his release. He's also got a killer instinct in the clutch, always making good things happen with the ball in his hands late in games.
As a freshman for Notre Dame, he was named to the Big East All-Rookie team, averaging 12.3 points and 4.9 assists per game. His second season with the Irish, Grant was named second-team All-Big East after averaging 13.3 points and 5.5 assists per game.
Starting last season, (Grant's junior year) the Irish shifted into the Atlantic Coast Conference, leaving the Big East behind. Grant had a terrific start to the year, averaging 19 points per game and leading Notre Dame to an 8-4 start. But as of December 23rd of 2013, Grant was declared academically ineligible for the remainder of the season and had to withdraw from Notre Dame. The Irish sputtered out to a 15-17 record without him, even after the strong start it had at the beginning of the year. Rather than leave for the NBA as many had expected him to, Grant decided to return to Notre Dame and finish out his senior year.
Via Matt Kamalsky of Draftexpress.com,
Grant's biggest merit as a prospect is his ability to create offense, both for himself and others. When he's in rhythm, he looks fairly comfortable scoring away from the rim, especially from the midrange, but he still settles for some off balance step-back jumpers, and will look a bit rigid or hurried on some attempts, notably when he's spotting up. The DeMatha Catholic product lacks a degree of athleticism, as he isn't a great leaper nor exceptionally quick, but he's not a poor athlete either relative to big guards we've seen in his mold in the past.
The kid can shoot it from anywhere, put it on the floor and penetrate, finish at the rim, and create looks for his teammates. He may not be the best athlete, but his size and ballhandling ability allow him to do things other point guards just can't. I mean c'mon, that Tom Chambers style dunk at the beginning of the video above sure doesn't indicate his athleticism is lacking.
In his senior season Grant finished with respectable averages of 16.5 points, 6.7 assists, 3 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game. He shot an impressive 47% from the field but struggled from deep, where he saw the 40% he had put up a year prior drop down to 31%. His inconsistency showed in this year's NCAA tournament. Grant played excellent throughout the tourney, but went just 3 for 14 from 3-point land including a 1 for 6 outing in the elimination game against Kentucky.
Elite at working out of the pick & roll and a player who excels on the break, Grant's size and basketball IQ make him an intriguing option at both the point guard and shooting guard positions for potential NBA teams. Defensively he can fall asleep at times, but his long frame makes him a nightmare in the passing lanes.
From Chad Ford of ESPN:
Grant continues to make the case that he's the best point guard in college basketball. He can do everything. He's got great size, and can score the basketball from anywhere on the floor. Age is really the only argument that you can make against Grant right now. He'll turn 23 before the start of the 2015-16 NBA season. In my mind, he's right there with Okafor and Kaminsky for college player of the year
We told you how Celtics GM Danny Ainge has shown interest in Providence guard Kris Dunn, but don't forget Ainge has also visited Notre Dame earlier this season.
There's also the fact that although Providence won the game when the two teams faced, Grant dominated Dunn in their matchup, having his way with him on offense. It's interesting that Ainge has been looking at these two when he just drafted Marcus Smart with his first pick in last year's draft. But as stated, Grant could play either backcourt position, though he's obviously better suited as a point guard.
Pains me to say it because I like the kid, but in my honest opinion Grant is just not the answer for the Celtics unless a trade is made to open up playing time for him. I hate when players in the top 20 are picked only to coast on the bench all season (see James Young). Do love the way Grant plays, and obviously depending where they're at in the draft he could wind up being the best available to them. But I also think his lack of a consistent deep game make him a risky option for the Celtics.
Great season and tournament for an already budding prospect in Grant. But this team is Marcus Smart's to run for the future, and drafting another point guard in the first round would just put unnecessary pressure on both players.
Grant should land somewhere in the 10-20 range, and certainly showed some leadership skills in carrying Notre Dame as far as he did this season and throughout the tournament. He will not be overlooked due to his age(23). Might not be a lottery pick, but damn close to it.
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Top photo - Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Fam photo- Al Bello/Getty Images
muggsytobs 3/31/2015 09:43:00 AM Tweet Edit