Jerami Grant, 6-foot-8 small forward, Syracuse
2013-14 stats: 12.1 PPG, 1.4 APG, 6.8 RPG, .674 FT%
A dynamic athlete who made a big jump between his freshman and sophomore campaigns, Grant is a player whose best basketball appears to be ahead of him. The son of Harvey Grant and nephew of Horace Grant, both former NBA players, the explosive forward certainly has the right pedigree. But even with his high upside, Grant is still very raw and must make the transition from being an interior player in college to the perimeter on the next level.
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Career highlights: After a career at famed DeMatha High School outside of Washington, D.C., Grant was a reserve as a freshman. While he showed flashes of his ability, including a midseason stretch that featured four double-figure outings in six games during Big East conference play — in a rare appearance as a starter, he had a 14-point, six-rebound outing in a win over his older brother Jerian’s Notre Dame team — he averaged 3.9 points and three rebounds per game as Syracuse advanced to the Final Four. A permanent starter his sophomore year, Grant became a key cog in the lineup, averaging 12.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, while shooting close to 50 percent from the field. Making his presence felt as an all-tournament team selection in the Maui Invitational, Grant helped Syracuse win its first 25 games, notching seven double-doubles on the campaign, including a 24-point, 12-rebound effort, both career-highs, in an overtime win over Duke.
Strengths: A long, bouncy athlete, Grant has the ability to impact the game offensively as a rebounder, in transition, as a slasher, on the baseline, from the high post and when facing up against slower big men. His high motor and length, as well as the understanding of his limitations, allows him to excel in a focused fashion, using his quickness and aggressiveness to make plays on both ends of the court. Defensively, he possesses a high activity level and the versatility to guard either inside or on the wing.
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Weaknesses: Still a more of a prospect than a finished product, Grant needs to develop as a perimeter player, extending his shooting range and becoming more than just a straight-line driver. While he has good size for a small forward and it appears that he has the lateral quickness to defend the position, playing in Syracuse’s 2-3 zone makes that aspect of his game a question mark upon entering the NBA. Even if he’s more of a small-ball power forward on the next level, Grant must add some bulk to his slender frame and improve his free-throw shooting, given his interior-based offensive game.
Draft projection: A mid-to-late first-round prospect, Grant’s stock could rise or fall based on how much of an improved skill level he reveals, perhaps demonstrating that his college role was based on team success rather than his individual limitations. Grant will likely be brought along slowly during his early career, until he shows that enough of an outside game to warrant heavy minutes at small forward. For the time being, he can carve out a niche for himself as a high-energy player with the ability to make plays in transition, something that should be a theme for Grant’s entire career, even if his level of responsibility on the court eventually increases, as he doesn't need the ball in his hands to be an effective complementary player.