Syracuse basketball has become known for its long, athletic forward over the years, and each season there seems to be a new member of the Orange to come seemingly from nowhere to blossom into a star.
Jerami Grant may not have come from nowhere, particularly when you take a look at his bloodlines, but he is this year’s candidate to become the new superstar combo forward alongside All-America candidate C.J. Fair. The son of former NBA journeyman Harvey Grant, the younger Grant brings a rare combination of athleticism, size and basketball smarts.
All three can be attributed to the fact that not just his dad, but also his uncle Horace had long, respectable NBA careers. The smarts can also be partly attributed to his having played his high school ball at storied DeMatha Catholic.
While Grant was far from being unheralded coming out of high school, he flew at least a little under the radar after missing out on the McDonald’s All-America game, and was generally being regarded in the top 30-50 range among all recruits nationally. Still, he impressed almost immediately in his limited time early on at Syracuse.
The 6-foot-8 inch Grant showed he had the ability to play either the small or power forward position, and got his chance to shine when senior forward James Southerland was briefly suspended over academic issues.
In his first start, on the road against eventual national champion Louisville, Grant scored 10 points and two weeks later notched a career high with 14 against Notre Dame and his big brother Jerian Grant on Big Monday. When Southerland returned to the lineup, Grant’s minutes diminished, but Syracuse fans are excited to see what the up-and-comer can do when given a more significant role this season.
Of course, it’s a testament to how loaded the Syracuse frontcourt is that Grant may not even be guaranteed a starting spot, as Fair has the small forward position locked up and Grant will have to battle Rakeem Christmas and freshman Tyler Roberson for minutes. Christmas may see more time at the center position, but Roberson, a 6-foot-9 athlete from New Jersey, has already wowed coaches in early practices.
Still, Grant is very much on the radar of NBA scouts and is projected as a top-20 prospect nationally by most outlets. He still has some holes in his game as his offensive skills need some polishing, but he shows good touch from 15 feet and in and has the ability to knock down 3-pointers from time to time.
He is also an improving free throw shooter, makes good decisions, is a tremendous rebounder despite his skinny frame and is an explosive leaper. Basically, he’s a highlight-reel dunk waiting to happen.
Grant gives Jim Boeheim yet another weapon this season, and if he comes close to living up to his hype, then the Atlantic Coast Conference could be in for a rude introduction to Syracuse basketball.