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DMV native Jerian Grant on joining the Wizards: "A dream come true"
On Wednesday, the Wizards announced the signing of Jerian Grant, a versatile, long-armed guard who has played a total of five seasons in the NBA and NBA G League. Grant will don a Wizards jersey for the first time later this month when the NBA season resumes in Orlando, a moment he says will be a “dream come true.”
Grant’s ties to the team, however, go back over 20 years.
A native of Silver Spring, Md. and son of former Washington Bullet Harvey Grant, Jerian worked as a ball boy with the team as a kid before his own basketball career began to blossom. As he grew into his own, Grant made a name for himself at local DeMatha Catholic High School, eventually accepting an offer to play at Notre Dame.
“I’ve been around the Wizards, been around this area my entire life,” Grant said. “Being a fan, having my dad play for them, being a ball boy, seeing all those players come through. Juwan Howard, Rod Strickland, Chris Webber – those guys are people I looked up to, people I wanted to be like. To finally be able to put on that jersey means a lot.”
After a pair of all-conference teams and a consensus All-American season 2014-15 at Notre Dame, Grant was actually drafted by the Wizards in 2015, but was dealt to the Knicks as part of a draft-night deal between Washington, New York and Atlanta. After his rookie year with the Knicks, he was traded to the Bulls the following offseason, where he spent two years. He played in 137 games with Chicago, including 54 starts. His best season came in 2017-18 with Chicago when he averaged 8.4 points and 4.6 assists in 22.8 minutes per game. In 2018-19, Grant appeared in 60 games with the Orlando Magic.
Grant is well-travelled for someone who has spent just five years in the league. While he’s yet to spend more than two seasons with a team, his impact on the court has been noticeable at each stop. In his four years in the NBA, he’s never appeared in less than 60 games in a season, he’s averaged at least 15.0 minutes per game each of those four seasons and has consistently produced the do-it-all stat lines you’d expect from a player of his size and versatility.
While his dream-come-true moment will arrive when he slips on his Wizards jersey for the first time later this month, Grant’s true homecoming came this season with the Capital City Go-Go, the Wizards G League affiliate, where he played 39 games, averaged 16.3 points, 5.9 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game.
Grant said he first felt like playing in the G League was a step back having just spent four seasons in the NBA, but came to realize over the course of the season that it was all “just a part of his journey.” Grant credits Go-Go head coach Ryan Richman for helping him come to that realization and for the development he showed over the course of the year.
“Coach Richman really helped me out, putting the ball in my hands and letting me be the player that he knows I can be,” Grant said.
Grant was a clear leader of the team, starting all but two of the games he played in, and made noticeable improvements to his game as the season went along. Playing mostly point guard, Grant’s assist average improved every month from November through February. His most notable point of development, however, came from beyond the arc. After shooting 32.4% from deep in his four NBA seasons, Grant became one of the G League’s best 3-point shooters this year, hitting 43.5% on nearly four attempts per game.
When he joins the Wizards, Grant will be reunited with David Adkins, Washington’s director of player development, whose pre-NBA coaching career is littered with college and high school accolades. Adkins, who helped 41 players earn Division I scholarships during his time as a high school coach, overlapped with Grant for three seasons at DeMatha.
“Coach Adkins was one of the guys who really helped me become the player I am today,” Grant said. “When he got into the NBA and we couldn’t work together as much as we used to because of the rules, it was tough for me, but at the same time, I was excited for him. But now to be able to get back with him is going to be great for my career and I know that he’s excited for it too.”
Grant praised the tight-knit, “family” culture within the Monumental Basketball organization, where the Wizards and Go-Go often shared practice space and worked as one unit.
“Having (Wizards General Manager) Tommy (Sheppard) and the guys on the Wizards treating me like I was one of their own was a lot,” Grant said.
Grant said that as games passed and the 2019-20 season progressed – however unlikely it may have been – he still felt like the call-up was on the horizon.
“Being with the Go-Go, I felt like my opportunity was coming, but as the season went on, it wasn’t there, but I felt like eventually I was going to get that call,” Grant said. “I was devastated when the pandemic happened and (the G League) season had to get canceled, but at the same time, I stayed ready. Once I heard (Davis) Bertans was opting out (of playing in Orlando), I got a little excited, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high. When that phone call came, it was just like a dream come true.”
“Everyone was excited for me,” he said. “Playing with the Go-Go was actually my first time playing and being home like that since high school. That was exciting for everybody, but to actually be on the Wizards and to be able to call myself a Wizard. Not only my family, but my friends and people from the city that know me and know that I’m from here were really excited for me. That type of support really meant a lot.”
As for his role on the court, Grant said his main goal is just to help the Wizards win games.
“I feel like I have a lot of different aspects to my game,” Grant said. “Whether it’s defense, making shots, creating, being somebody that can help the team win. I’ve been in the playoffs a few times. I’ve played in the playoffs, started games in the playoffs. (I am) someone that can help the team going forward.”