Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Jerrett is the Southland's gem
By Sean Ceglinsky
Grant Jerrett of La Verne Lutheran -- and his big, agile frame -- are headed to Arizona.
LA VERNE -- At 6-foot-10 and 220 pounds, and potentially growing, Grant Jerrett possesses the size necessary to make an impact each time he steps out on the basketball court. There is more to him than merely an ideal frame for the game though. Much more, in fact.
The senior from La Verne Lutheran is as skilled as they come.
A well-rounded interior game separates Jerrett from most of his peers. A deft touch from the perimeter, especially for a post player, makes him a match-up nightmare for opposing bigs. An unrelenting will to grab seemingly every rebound from counterparts in his general vicinity is a valuable asset. Blocking shots and stepping in passing lanes for steals comes naturally.
Jerrett caught the eye of many Pac-12 schools, including UCLA and USC.
All of the intangibles are there, and given that fact, the Arizona-bound Jerrett is recognized as one of the Southland's premier players. The Trojans, as result, figure to be a force to be reckon from start to finish this season. With Jerrett leading the way, of course.
“Grant gets better with each day, with every practice, every game, every jumper, every rebound. He's a special player,'' La Verne Lutheran coach Eric Cooper said. “The best is yet to come. Once he realizes that he can dominate games, everybody better watch out for him.''
Make no mistake, Jerrett has been a well-known commodity for quite some time. He has, after all, been at the forefront of back-to-back CIF State titles for the Trojans.
Jerrett & Co. are expected to be one of the marquee attractions at the Chick-fil-A Classic, a high-profile multiple-day tournament the rest of this week in Decatur, Ga.
There was, however, a time when he wasn't a household name.
Jerrett is in his fourth year as a contributor on the varsity level for La Verne Lutheran. His first season, unfortunately, was cut short when he broke his foot twice.
He took a big step forward during as a sophomore, no pun intended. Jerrett opened plenty of eyes with more than respectable averages 18 points and 10 rebounds per game.
“Everything happens for a reason, I'm just thankful all of those injuries are behind me and I'm healthy now,'' Jerrett said. “I feel stronger than ever, which is a good thing because I know I have a big target on my back nowadays. I'm always up for the challenge though.''
That was blatantly obvious last season as a junior. Jerrett was unstoppable, at times, and averaged 18 points, 10 rebounds and more that three blocks every night.
He shot 64 percent from field. Equally effective at the free-throw line, Jerrett converted 76 percent of his attempts from the charity stripe. When called upon to do so, he showed a nice touch from three-point land and made 56 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.
Jerrett had 13 double-doubles a season ago. He had 32 points and 15 rebounds against Riverside La Sierra Academy. Jerrett played well against good teams too and finished with a triple-double, 30 points, 20 rebounds and 11 blocks, in a game with Orange Lutheran.
“Grant is our leader,'' said junior point guard Eric Cooper Jr., a good prospect in his own right who is receiving his share of recruiting interest. “He is factor every time we go down the floor on the offensive end. When we need a big bucket, I'm looking in his direction because he has delivered so many times for us. He is the kind of teammate you want around.''
College coaches and scouts, alike, appear to agree.
Jerrett had scholarship offers on the table from multiple programs, several from the Pac-12 Conference. Cal, UCLA and USC were among his potential suitors.
Ultimately, heading to Tuscon and playing for the Wildcats was the best fit for him. Accordingly, Jerrett committed to Arizona back in late November of last year.
“I liked everything about the Wildcats, the campus, the coaches, just everything about the place,'' Jerrett said. “In the end, I think the decision was easy for me.''
Jerrett is considered the top prospect in the greater Los Angeles area, ahead of Orange Lutheran's Gabe York, North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake's Zeno Edosomwan, Woodland Hills Taft's Anthony January and Santa Ana Mater Dei's Katin Reinhardt and Xavier Johnson.
On the national level, ESPN Recruiting ranks Jerrett as the country's No. 9 player overall. His name is mentioned in the same sentence as Las Vegas (NV) Bishop Gorman's Shabazz Muhammad, Chesterton (IN) Brewster Academy's Mitch McGary, Arlington (TX) Grace Preparatory Academy's Isaiah Austin and Las Vegas (NV) Findlay Prep's Brandon Ashley.
“What else can you say about Grant? He gets the job done, bottom line, and all the credit he receives is worthy,'' Cooper Sr. said. “He has the game to match the size. In some ways, he reminds me of Kevin McHale, long and lean with plenty of tools. Grant is his own man. He has a bright future ahead of him. We're happy we have him around for one more year.''
What a year it figures to be for Jerrett and the Trojans.