Long time Oklahoma Sooner hoop fans will never forget head coach Billy Tubbs' 1988 squad. What fans remember, probably as much or more than the team coming within one win of the national championship, was their run and gun style of play. "Billy-Ball." It was fun.
The lethargic 45 second shot clock the NCAA introduced in 1985 did not exist for Tubbs' Sooners. Oklahoma's offensive attack was a relentless non-stop track meet, and their pressing man-to-man defense was specifically designed to keep the party going the entire 40 minutes. Mookie Blaylock, the point guard/spear point, nabbed 150 steals that season, 13 in a single game, both stats set NCAA records that still stand today.
Grant, the identical twin brother of former Chicago Bull Horace Grant, transferred to OU from Clemson and provided a steadying force in the post for the Sooners for two seasons. He averaged 20.9 pts and 9.4 rebounds per game, shot a solid 73% from the charity stripe his senior year, and the Washington Bullets selected him with the #12 pick in the 1988 NBA draft.
While not considered spectacular, the General had a productive NBA career. In 1991, Grant's 3rd season in the NBA, he finished second to new Orlando Magic coach Scott Skiles for the NBA Most Improved Player Award when he averaged 18.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.18 steals per game.
Harvey Grant was, and still is my favorite Sooner basketball player, and when I first read Jerian Grant's name and then saw his face, I recognized the blood ties. The only question was whether he was Harvey or Horace's boy. Turns out, he is Harvey Grant's son. While legacy players have had uneven success in the NBA, it is worth noting that the NBA's best team this season and the Finals favorites feature two of them in Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, two guys who were not expected to be as good as they are today. A certain amount of deference should be afforded to the sons of players who knew how to build long lasting careers at the highest level of competition.
Jerian is a projected first round pick in the upcoming NBA draft and played point guard at Notre Dame. He led the Fighting Irish to the 2015 ACC Championship, knocking off eventual NCAA champion Duke on the way.
If Thunder GM Sam Presti is using this draft to find a point guard to eventually step into the back up role to Russell Westbrook, Jerian Grant fits the bill. Add 20 pounds and some polish and Grant promises to be a solid NBA point guard.
Standing 6'5," Grant doesn't merely have good size for a point guard, he has tremendous size, and can play both the 1 and the 2. However, he excels at playing the point. His leaping ability, quick reflexes and lateral speed, coupled with his proficiency running the pick and roll offense, make Jerian a good choice for any team that picks him up on June 25th.
As a floor general, Grant is unselfish almost to a fault. ESPN analyst Chad Ford has this to say about Grant:
"The thing I think NBA scouts love the most about Grant are his excellent leadership qualities. He takes his team and wills them to victory on any given night...."
"At times he can be too unselfish, as a leader sometimes he needs to assert himself more, when he does so he can be unstoppable..."
In the very competitive ACC, Grant's 6.22 pure point ratio ranks second in DraftExpress's Top-100. Turning the ball over on just 14% of his possessions, Jerian 6.6 assists to just 2.2 turnovers is impressive.
With a tremendous foundation to build on, Grant could be a great choice in the June 25th NBA Draft and be just what the doctor ordered if Presti is looking for a future back up point guard.