Jerrett's decision to leave UA puzzling

BY foxsports • April 17, 2013

TUCSON, Ariz. – Grant Jerrett has left the building. That building would be McKale Center, which is, of course, the center of the Arizona basketball world.

After rumors began circulating that the freshman and former five-star recruit would be leaving after one relatively uninspiring year to enter the NBA draft, the news became official late Wednesday night.

“Today, with the support of my family, I made the decision to enter the 2013 NBA Draft and pursue my lifelong dream of playing professional basketball,” Jerrett said in a news release provided by Arizona. “I would like to thank all Wildcat fans, my teammates and coaches for making my year in Tucson an incredible experience.  I will forever be an Arizona Wildcat.”

Wow! Or more like "umm ... wow."

Here’s a player who averaged just under 18 minutes a game, scoring just 5.2 points and pulling down 3.6 rebounds a game in 34 appearances. He started twice.

While the NBA front-office types care little about college numbers -- it’s all about potential in the draft -- who is giving this guy advice?

He does leave Arizona with coach Sean Miller’s blessing.

“I would like to wish Grant well as he pursues his goal of becoming a part of the NBA,” Miller said in the school's statement. “Not only is Grant a talented player, but he is an even better person with a wonderful and supportive family.  I look forward to helping him in any way that I can as he moves forward in his basketball career.”

Where that will be is anyone’s guess. Jerrett, a wispy 6-foot-10 forward/center who is just over 240 pounds, isn’t projected to be a first-round pick in the June draft. It’s not even clear if he’ll be selected at all.

But he’s made his decision, surprising as it is.

It’s also not clear if he spoke to any past Wildcats who were in his same shoes (massive as they are). He should have.

Marcus Williams comes to mind. Williams played two years, decided he was good enough after his second year at UA and declared early. He was drafted in the second round (33rd) and had a cup of coffee in the NBA, but it’s not even clear if he’s playing anywhere at this point after being banned in China over the winter, reportedly for failing a drug test.

And lest anyone forget about Arizona signee Ndudi Ebi, who never showed up on campus, was drafted in the first round, was used in a limited capacity over a two-year span and then was forgotten.

Then again, college isn’t what it used to be. It’s about getting in and getting out. The quick satisfaction. And Jerrett is a perfect example of that. More power to him. But he’s more finesse than power -- at least he was in his short stint at Arizona.

What he could have done was ask a Wildcat. Arizona has had plenty who jumped ship only to realize that they weren't as ready as they thought they were. Only Jerryd Bayless made the leap after his first year, but he was ready, getting picked 11th overall by the Indiana Pacers.

Derrick Williams was the last Arizona player to jump, leaving after his second year in 2011 to become the second UA player to go No. 2 in the draft. Mike Bibby also did it in 1998. Both were ready.

Jerrett? Well, good luck.

Then again -- and this can't be stressed enough -- pro basketball is all about potential. And Jerrett has that. He has a jumper that ranges beyond the arc (although remember that the arc is farther from the hoop in the NBA) and has a 7-foot-6 wingspan.

What’s that about potential? It just means you haven’t realized it yet?

Mustafa Shakur, Chase Budinger and Jason Gardner all realized they weren’t ready to leave early, deciding to return after first declaring for the NBA. Seems so long ago.

Shakur is part of the NBDL now after playing four years at Arizona. Gardner returned, too, after realizing that Gilbert Arenas (who jumped after his sophomore season), Michael Wright (jumped after his third year) and Richard Jefferson (third year) were destined for better things than he was. Wright, who just got tired of school, never stuck in the league but has flourished overseas. Jefferson, meanwhile is headed to the playoffs with the Golden State Warriors. Arenas has had an impressive, lucrative career after a rough transition to life in the NBA as a rookie, a year featuring few minutes and plenty of frustration.

If that happens to Jerrett, well, he’ll be lucky. But he’s taking his chances.

The news didn't come as a complete shock after reports surfaced earlier this week that he was gathering information about his draft stock. It took less than 48 hours to get that info, so -- at least according to those who are giving him his advice -- perhaps he has a more certain future than it appears. But there's not an expert out there projecting him as a first-round pick, and beyond that, there are no guarantees.

The only guarantee: He won't be playing at McKale Center next year.

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