Jerami Grant chose to leave Syracuse after his sophomore season in 2014. And that decision looks better with each passing year.
That’s because Grant’s NBA paychecks are getting bigger and bigger.
But as more and more players annually declare for the NBA Draft in search of that proverbial basketball pot of green gold, the analysis by “arm chair NBA GMs” becomes louder and louder, thanks to social media.
And when Grant announced his intentions to forego his junior and senior seasons, plenty of Orange fans were left to ponder his logic.
By the end of his sophomore campaign, Grant seemed poised to be the next Syracuse star. He averaged 12.1 PPG along with 6.9 RPG while flashing superior athleticism. And, there was his NBA pedigree; his father is Harvey Grant. Horace Grant is his uncle, and Jerian Grant is his brother.
Orange fans thought if Grant could develop a jumper, he’d be a force to be reckoned with as a junior.
Betting on Himself
Jerami Grant was drafted in the second round with the 39th pick by the Philadelphia 76ers. Two games into his third season, Philly traded him to Oklahoma City. Grant served as a decent role player through four seasons.
But after that fourth season is when he hit it big. Grant signed a 3-year contract totaling $27 million in July 2018. The third year of the deal is a player option.
And Grant rewarded the Thunder last season with career-bests in PPG (13.6) and RPG (5.2). He also developed a shooting stroke by knocking down 115-of-293 – good for 39.2 percent on his 3-point shots.
The Thunder recently traded Grant to Denver. He’s set to earn $9.3 M this season.
Some college players are a sure-fire locks to make The Leap. Two recent college stars who immediately come to mind are Zion Williamson this past season and Anthony Davis when he was at Kentucky.
Jim Boeheim has had his share of players make obvious no-brainer decisions to enter the NBA Draft.
Carmelo Anthony was the third pick in the 2003 NBA Draft after leading the Orange to the National Championship. Through 15 NBA seasons, Anthony is sitting on $232 million dollars in earnings.
Wes Johnson was selected fourth overall in the 2010 NBA Draft. Johnson has bounced around the league since then before recently signing to play in Greece for the upcoming season. He’s made over $26 million in the past eight seasons.
Two years later, Dion Waiters was the fourth pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. In six seasons, Waiters has earned almost $31 million dollars.
Syracuse has also had its share of players “strike while the iron was hot” with their NBA departures.
Tyler Ennis was the 18th overall pick by the Houston Rockets in the 2014 NBA Draft and has earned $6.5 million dollars in four seasons.
Chris McCullough was selected with the 29th pick of the first round by the Brooklyn Nets in the 2015 NBA Draft. In three seasons he earned $3.8 million dollars.
Malachi Richardson is best known for carrying Syracuse to the Final Four – at the expense of the Virginia Cavaliers – in 2016. Richardson’s blazing second half in the Elite Eight win against the Cavs catapulted him all the way to the 22nd pick in the draft by the Charlotte Hornets. Though he’s struggled to get minutes, Richardson has earned just under $3 million in two seasons.
A year later, Tyler Lydon was the 24th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets. Injuries have so far derailed his career. Lydon has earned almost $3.5 million in two seasons. He recently signed a 2-year, $3.38 million deal with the Sacramento Kings.
None of those four players signed the lucrative second NBA contract that Grant recently did.
Leaving college early is an annual decision made by scads of players that’s guaranteed to be debated each June once the NBA Draft comes and goes. Some gambles pay off while others turn out to be the head-scratchers they originally appeared as.
For Jerami Grant and his decision, the proof is in the pudding.
Or in this case, his wallet.