Grant Jerrett apparently will be selected in the NBA Draft, perhaps in the first round of what appears to be a down year for talent.
Otherwise, why is an unproven player like Jerrett forecast to be selected that high?
ESPN.com draft analyst Chad Ford rates Jerrett worthy of a late-first round selection (although Jerrett is not included in Ford’s mock draft of the first round). Ford’s primary reason for giving Jerrett (6-foot-10 and 232 pounds) high marks: He can stretch defenders as a power forward with his perimeter shooting skills. Jerrett also has a high basketball IQ, can get it done at the post and is an excellent passer, according to Ford.
Arizona fans will question Ford’s assessment of a high basketball IQ and getting it done at the post mostly because they did not see Jerrett get enough of a chance to prove those skills with the Wildcats.
Jerrett did not show much of a high basketball IQ when he strayed away from Ohio State sharp-shooter LaQuinton Ross to help defend penetrating guard Aaron Craft, who noticed the open Ross on the perimeter. Craft passed the ball to Ross, who drilled a three-pointer with two seconds left to give the Buckeyes a 73-70 victory in the Sweet 16.
As far as getting it done at the post, Jerrett averaged only 3.6 rebounds a game, but he managed to lead the Wildcats with 33 blocked shots.
Jerrett averaged only 17.8 minutes a game, hardly enough time to evaluate talent at the collegiate level. His individual workouts with NBA teams must be impressive enough for Ford to rate him so high.
Also in Jerrett’s favor is the talent pool. ESPN college basketball broadcaster Jay Bilas said during SportsCenter Wednesday that next year’s draft will be loaded compared to the draft that will take place Thursday.
“If (Kansas-bound) Andrew Wiggins was in the draft this year, he would be the No. 1 pick,” Bilas said. “If (Duke signee) Jabari Parker was coming out, he would be the No. 1 pick. Next year will be a lot of fun to watch with the amount of talent available.”
Arizona recruit Aaron Gordon, who begins play in the U-19 World Championships with Team USA on Thursday, will likely be a one-and-done NBA lottery pick next year.
Jerrett did himself and the Wildcats a favor by leaving after one season. He is more impressive to scouts because of the overall lack of talent available this year. Moreover, having him together with Gordon would have wrecked the UA’s chemistry. That is obvious.
Jerrett thinks more of his ability than the UA coaches, who limited his playing time overall in favor of fellow freshman Brandon Ashley. A proud Jerrett — some would use the word “delusional” instead — going against a surefire prospect like Gordon every day would have caused an unsettling situation. Jerrett’s mind was made up that he was not in the UA’s plans.
He saw the writing on the wall and it read “reserve player”. He will have the same role in the NBA next season if he remains on an active roster. He will also be considerably wealthier.
He got out when the going was good for his personal interest.
Solomon Hill, on the other hand, paid his dues in college and will likely be a second-round draft pick. He commented this year that during his freshman season he thought about the grandeur of the NBA and leaving early. Reality set in and he realized he had to stay at Arizona, where he became a two-time All-Pac-12 selection.
Hill may not be selected as high as Jerrett on Thursday, and he may not have as much potential as Jerrett in the NBA.
But he is mature enough to handle career challenges. He has done that throughout his four-year career at Arizona.
Long-term success is a likelihood on and off the court for a guy who has persevered like Hill. As far as Jerrett is concerned, we can only hope about his future prospects because nobody knows what’s in store for the unproven youngster.