Did MCW hurt both Jerami Grant and Tyler Ennis?


As a Syracuse fan their re-rise as a basketball powerhouse has been fantastic to see. There were some struggles after the Gerry McNamara era and Hakim Warrick post 2005 and 2006. Time seemed to be ticking on Jim Boeheim’s coaching career as age and recruiting woes continued. Around 2009 though things began to turn around and since, Syracuse has managed to uplift the basketball program and become a hotbed for top recruits. These top recruits have been able to vacate school early as first round NBA draft picks.

This past season no one truly expected Syracuse to have anyone leave besides graduating seniors CJ Fair and Baye Moussa Keita. Even though Tyler Ennis was on NBA radars his size and decline in the last fifteen games seemed to be a telling sign to come back for another year. His decision to bolt college wasn’t a shock but is a reason why his projections are all over the place. He just did not have a stellar freshman season like some of the freshman that bolted and are projected lottery picks.

Jerami Grant’s decision to leave is purely based on athleticism. Consider some of the recent Syracuse players and maybe Grant’s decision should not be challenged as much. Both Kris Joseph and CJ Fair had higher prospects for the NBA as sophomores than they did by completing four years at Syracuse. As a role player as sophomores all players shined but when they became the focal point as seniors they did not fair as well.

Grant’s upside seems to have peaked in my eyes at the college level. His athleticism is a rarity and he knows his role offensively. Sure scouts are saying that he needs to become a better perimeter shooter, but that’s a commonality amongst power forwards. There aren’t too many that step out from 15 to 20 feet on a regular basis. That’s the job of the small forwards and guards on a team. Grant will excel as a high energy player that can play solid defense and score around the rim. He may need to add an extra 15 pounds to challenge NBA skill men but his role should not vary much from the college to NBA ranks.

Where I worry on draft day is that both Ennis and Grant may slip beyond where they both figured to be drafted. Ennis is an on court performer while Grant is an energy athlete. During combine drills neither is going to be able to showcase these skills. Ennis will likely falter from his non athletic skills compared to other point guards in the draft, and Grant likely will from shooting drills.

Sometimes being at a school that produces NBA talent so quickly can be a detriment. Both Ennis and Grant have seen Dion Waiters, Wes Johnson, Jonny Flynn, and most recently Michael Carter-Williams pursue the NBA route before college graduation. Rumblings on campus and media mock drafts surely caught the attention of both Ennis and Grant. Schools always have that player or two amidst a school run of top tier picks that should have stayed. I believe that both Grant and Ennis may have caught that bug this year.

With Michael Carter Williams winning rookie of the year and Syracuse’s 25-0 start, it may have been a mental combination on both ends. Syracuse had two early season games they could have lost easily against poor teams. One against Cornell and another against St. Francis. A loss against either would have stifled freshman Tyler Ennis and put a red flag to scouts.

But the course of the season occurred the way it did, and now Syracuse will have huge holes in it’s lineup for the first time since 2009. It’ll be sad to see especially if Grant and Ennis are sitting on the pine not developing the next two seasons.


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