High NBA praise for ND's Jerian Grant from Phil Jackson
The Zen Master has spoken, and it's all good karma when it comes to former Notre Dame guard Jerian Grant.
Jackson, who won a record 11 NBA titles as a coach, is set to begin his second season as president of the New York Knicks. In his latest installment of "The Phil Files," published by ESPN, Jackson discusses the Knicks' work on draft night, which included acquiring Grant in a draft-night trade with the Washington Wizards via the Atlanta Hawks.
Grant, who was a consensus first team All-American and Atlantic Coast Conference tournament most valuable player in 2015, was selected with the No. 19 pick in the first round. He went on to average 11.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.6 steals in 27.4 minutes at the Samsung NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.
Jackson, who had a courtside seat for many of those Knicks' games, liked what he saw from Grant. Really liked it.
"He knows the game and has a certain flair for it," Jackson wrote in the ESPN piece.
Jackson also admired how Grant handled the most difficult time in his collegiate career in December 2013.
Separated from the university during the 2014 spring semester because of an "academic misstep," Grant could have chosen to enter the NBA draft that summer. Instead, he returned to school and was a key reason why Notre Dame went from 15-17 to 32-6.
"Jerian fessed up, took his punishment and despite being urged to make himself available in the NBA draft, went back to school," Jackson said. "To me, that reveals a lot about his character."
Jackson sees Grant, who shot 39.1 percent from the field, 50 percent from 3 and 90 percent from the foul line in summer league, being able to play both guard spots and challenging veteran Langston Galloway for playing time during his rookie year.
Grant and the Knicks open the 2015-16 season Oct. 28 at Milwaukee.