Notre Dame men’s basketball season ended in heartbreak on Saturday when Jerian Grant’s desperation three missed the mark as time expired, but Jerian Grant’s post-season started off with a bang on Monday when the Irish guard was named a 1st Team All-American by both the AP and the National Basketball Coaches Association in addition to being named to the John R Wooden All-American squad.
On top of being named to the trio of All-American squads, Grant was also named one of five finalists for the John R Wooden Player of the Year Award.
Not a bad day for Grant even though I’m sure he would have rather spent the day preparing for a Final Four showdown with Wisconsin rather than collecting his well-deserved accolades.
Grant along with the rest of the Fighting Irish men’s basketball team are still left with a whole lot of what if’s after battling top-ranked and unbeaten Kentucky down to the very last seconds on Saturday night in one of the most thrilling Elite 8 contests in a long time. After leading much of the second half, Kentucky stole the lead in the final minute with Notre Dame unable to regain it.
For Grant, his season of postseason awards comes just a year after he was suspended for academic reasons causing him to miss all but 12 games of the 2013-2014 season. Grant was back in action this year, however, and turned in one of the single greatest seasons a Notre Dame guard has ever recorded.
Grant led the Irish in scoring, steals, and assists all while leading the Irish to the ACC Tournament Championship where he was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player before taking the Irish to the Elite 8 for the first time since 1979. Along the way Grant became just the 7th player in ACC history to score 600 points, dish our 200 assists, and pick up 50 steals in a single season.
The last Notre Dame player to be named to both the AP and NBCA 1st Team All-American teams was Troy Murphy back in 2001 and the last Irish player to be a finalist for the Wooden Player of the Year Award was Luke Harangody back in 2009.
With his eligibility exhausted, Grant has a chance to be a lottery pick in this year’s NBA Draft. Most mock drafts currently have Grant going anywhere from 11th to 18th. After the run Grant and the Irish went on, though it would not be surprising to see him move up some draft boards. With my Sixers in desperate need of guard help, I certainly would not mind seeing Grant slide to the 15th/16th range where the Sixers could be drafting if they secure the lottery-protected 1st round pick from Miami they acquired via trade.
Regardless of where Grant gets picked or what other awards he collects this off-season, it cannot be understated what a phenomenal return he made to the court this year after his off-the-court a year ago. Grant and the rest of the Irish team gave Notre Dame fans a run that we will all remember for years and showed that the Irish are capable of playing with anyone in the country.