As the clock wound down in Monday afternoon’s contest between the Syracuse Orange and the Cincinnati Bearcats with the score tied at 55, freshman forward Jerami Grant found himself in an envious position.
With the ball in his hands and a chance to score the game-winning basket.
Grant missed the shot but was bailed out when teammate C.J. Fair tipped in the miss for what would prove to be the decisive bucket.
Welcome to the Big East, Jerami.
Grant, rated a 4-star prospect by recruiting services Scout and Rivals, had offers from schools such as N.C. State, Texas, Maryland and Georgetown according to those sites. He also had an offer from Oklahoma, where his father, Harvey, played.
If that name sounds familiar to basketball fans, it should. Harvey Grant played for 11 years in the NBA. Harvey’s brother, Horace, also played in the NBA.
And if that isn’t enough of a basketball pedigree, Jerami’s older brother, Jerai, played at Clemson. He has another brother, Jerian, currently playing for Notre Dame.
Needless to say, basketball runs in the Grant family.
Although Jerami could’ve played with Jerian for the Fighting Irish, he chose his own path. Instead of the famed Irish green, Grant chose a different color. Orange.
A quick scan of Syracuse’s roster revealed somewhat of a back log at the forward position. If Grant was going to see the court, he’d have to earn his playing time considering he was behind forwards James Southerland, C.J. Fair and Rakeem Christmas.
Coach Jim Beoheim likes veteran players so taking minutes away from those three would require the right opportunity.
That opportunity came at the expense of Southerland.
On Saturday, Jan. 12, Syracuse University announced Southerland, a senior and 3-point marksman, would be held out of games due to an eligibility matter. He has missed the last three contests.
No one player was going to replace Southerland given his shooting range, big game experience and savvy that comes from being a senior. Everyone would have to pick up the slack.
So far, Grant has jumped at the chance.
In the past three games, Grant has logged no less than 28 minutes with a high of 35 in Syracuse’s road win over then-ranked No. 1 Louisville on Saturday.
He’s scored a total of 28 points in those games with a season high of 13 in a home victory over Villanova.
Grant has also been getting after it on the glass as well snagging a combined 17 boards with a game and season high of seven against the Bearcats.
With Southerland’s eligibility still in question, Grant is sure to see a plethora of minutes.
If his production continues and Southerland returns to action, the log jam at the forward spot will only increase. Should Southerland remain sidelined, Grant has the potential to blossom via baptism by fire.
No matter how the cloud surrounding Southerland plays out, Grant and the Orange are sure to benefit either way. And that’s not a bad problem for Jim Boeheim and Syracuse to have.