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Right from the beginning, Basketball is a serious family matter for Jerian Grant

07/07/2021
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Harvey Grant just watched as his children played. “I’m from the old school – he told the Washington Post – I sit back for a couple of minutes, I let them do it, then when things got too rough, then I’d step in.” Harvey Grant was a great NBA player, especially in Washington, he had 783 career games, 7,781 points scored, three seasons, all of them with the Wizards, averaging at least 18 points per game. His twin brother Horace had even more, 16 seasons, four NBA titles, six finals appearances, he was a starter when the Bulls won three consecutive championships from 1991 to 1993. Harvey, let’s get back to him, has four sons, all of similar ages, all of them played for the legendary DeMatha Catholic High School, in the Washington metropolitan area, where the Hall of Famer Morgan Wootten for decades ran one of the most dominant basketball program in America. Only the youngest son, Jaelin did not turn out to be a pro, despite having also played college ball. Jerai Grant, the eldest, also played in Italy in Brindisi and was in Promitheas last season. The second Jerian is the Olimpia’s new guard. The third Grant, Jerani, is a Detroit Pistons rugged forward who will play the Tokyo Olympics with the U.S. National Team. When the four played against each other at home, friendly contests were not allowed. Harvey just watched, he stepped in when his voice needed to be heard. Each one of the Grant boys has probably motivated the other. “We were like the Ninja Turtles – said Jerian -, all the same and all different. Jerai is Leonardo, the leader, Jerami is Raphael because he has a fire inside, I am Michelangelo, the clown of the family. Jaelin is a mix of all of us.”

“Basketball is all I have known, since when I was a child,” Jerian says. Like his brothers, Jerian was a ball boy for his dad and played at DeMatha, after Jerai but at some points along Jerami. Another NBA star played with them, Victor Oladipo of the Miami Heat, as well as Quinn Cook (with the Lakers and Cavaliers lately). Oladipo and Grant were inseparable and highly motivated. Under Coach Mike Jones they founded the “Breakfast Club”: the rule was to show up ready to practice in the gym at six in the morning, no excuses allowed. During Jerian’s three years at DeMatha, the team finished 88-18, winning two championships. As a senior, Jerian was the captain of the team that won 32 out of 36 games, playing all over the country. Five players from that team went to the NBA: Jerian, Jerami, Oladipo, Quinn Cook, and Josh Selby. Jerian older brother Jerai after DeMatha went to Clemson as Uncle Horace did, and initially Harvey as well (he then moved to Oklahoma). Jerian instead accepted the scholarship offered by Mike Brey, another DeMatha alumni, by moving to Notre Dame.

During the first year with the Fighting Irish, he did not play, during the second season, he started 33 times out of 34, he was the second-best team scorer and was named to the Big East All-rookie team; during his third year in South Bend, he was the team leading scorer (13.3 points per game) and was named to the conference second team. During the fourth year, however, Grant only played 12 games, before leaving the team temporarily due to an academic misunderstanding. Coach Mike Brey, in addition to monitoring his shape, entrusted him with an additional task, watching all the team’s games on TV and to send him his opinions via e-mail shortly afterwards. That was Notre Dame’s first season in the extremely competitive Atlantic Coast Conference. The team ended the season badly and Grant could have declared himself for the NBA draft right away as did his younger brother, Jerami, who was at Syracuse and was picked by Philadelphia. However, he decided to stay for the fifth year allowed by the rules to those who redshirted the first season. He and Pat Connaughton, the shooter who is now in Milwaukee, had a special bond. They returned together.

Grant’s last season at Notre Dame was born, of all places, in Italy during a summer tour where he regained confidence and rhythm. Jerian averaged 16.5 points and 6.6 assists per game that season, was a first team All-America, All-ACC first team, led the team to the conference title, winning the MVP award in the process, and up to the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament. It was a season for the ages, one of the best that ever was at Notre Dame.

In 2015, Grant was the third Notre Dame player coached by Mike Brey to be picked in the first round of the NBA draft. The Knicks selected him with the number 19. He had a bet with Jerami that night: his younger brother, who had entered the draft the year before, was picked at number 39, and thought that his brother was not going to be drafted higher. Instead, Jerian was picked twenty picks earlier! He played a total of 279 NBA games, averaging 6.1 points and 2.9 assists per game. In his third season, when he was in Chicago (the Knicks traded him to the Bulls as part of the Derrick Rose deal), he averaged 8.4 points and 4.6 assists, his best season statistically. He was eventually traded to Orlando in 2018, played in Washington and his last NBA appearance was in Houston. On New Year’s Day last season, he joined his brother Jerai at Promitheas. In Greece, he led the team to the playoff semifinal. But he also discovered a different type basketball. “In all the teams I’ve played in, what I bring is the little things that help to win, I try to have an impact on the wins,” he said. This is what Olimpia wants.

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