Jerami Grant is a name that has popped up on a number of breakout player lists heading into the 2013-2014 season, but the sophomore forward has had a couple of setbacks this offseason that may hinder his ability to produce the way he would like.
The 6-foot-8 forward made the cut for the U19 team, but he couldn’t accept his spot thanks to a bout of mono that he dealt with.
That wasn’t it, however.
Syracuse kicked off their practices three weeks ago, but due to a hand injury, Grant didn’t really find himself in the full swing of things until last week.
The injuries have been frustrating, but the 13.3 points and 7.8 boards he averaged during a swing through Canada have helped him combat some of those concerns. From Mike Waters of the Syracuse-Post Standard:
“(He) played well,” Boeheim said. “He’s improved. He’s worked on his game. He’s a much-improved player. I think he’s still got a lot of things he can do to get better and will.”
Grant returned to practice last week and he’s already turning heads.
“I think (the injury) set him back a little bit,” SU assistant coach Adrian Autry said, “but I think the last two or three practices he’s started to get back into form. He’s starting to look the way he did at the end of the Canadian trip.”
Syracuse will head into the season as one of the favorites to win the ACC title, but there are some concerns on that roster. Obviously, how the Orange will be able to replace point guard Michael Carter-Williams is the biggest, but there are also question marks up front. C.J. Fair returns, but after that there is quite a bit of athleticism but not a lot of proven talent.
Grant’s ability to improve as a sophomore and become a guy that can provide interior scoring, energy and rebounding will play a big role in the success the Orange have this year.
Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.
Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.
“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”
While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.
Thursday afternoon marked the first time since Friday that Louisville head coach Rick Pitino commented on the controversy that has taken his program by storm. Speaking with Terry Meiners of 840 WHAS in Louisville, Pitino discussed the escort scandal, what could have possibly led former staffer Andre McGee down the path he’s alleged to have taken in Katina Powell’s book and his future at Louisville.
The interview began with Meiners asking Pitino if it changed his thinking as to whether or not he needed to resign, which (as one would expect) Pitino shot down. Also discussed was the statement released by school president Dr. James Ramsey, which expressed support for athletic director Tom Jurich but did not mention Pitino at all.
“Well I can’t answer that, Terry,” Pitino said when asked why he wasn’t mentioned in the statement. “Twenty-six years ago Kentucky brought me in to make the program compliant to NCAA rules. (Then-Kentucky president) Dr. (David) Roselle and (then Kentucky athletic director) C.M. Newton thought I was the guy to come in and change around the images, change around the culture and add a lot of discipline to the program. And I did that.
“And then I came here to the University of Louisville, and if someone was five seconds late or not early consequences would be paid from a disciplinary standpoint,” Pitino continued. “This is obviously not a person being late, this is not about a person (not) working hard. This is about things that are very disgusting, things that turn my stomach, things that keep me up without sleeping.
“But unfortunately, I had no knowledge of any of this and don’t believe in it. It’s sickening to me, the whole thing. But I’m thinking of my 13 players, I’m thinking of our program, and I’m sorry that Dr. Ramsey did not think enough to mention me but that’s something I cannot control.”
Below is audio of the full interview, which ran just over 17 minutes in length.