By Jeff Borzello
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Jerami Grant has been overshadowed for much of his basketball career. Besides being the younger son of Harvey Grant and younger brother of former Clemson forward Jerai Grant, Jerami has always played second fiddle at DeMatha (Md.) and on the AAU circuit with Team Takeover.
That all changed this spring, though, as Grant played a major role in leading Takeover to an undefeated record in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League.
“My confident has shot up,” Grant said. “I had no other choice. My coaches had been telling me I had to play like that.”
The 6-foot-7 small forward is long and athletic, and he has improved his passing and ball-handling skills. Throw in his ability to knock down jumpers and attack the rim, and Grant is become more and more difficult to defend.
“I bring mismatches to the table,” he said. “I’m a playmaker.”
While being the son of an 11-year NBA veteran might add some pressure, Grant said having someone who has made it to the NBA giving advice is a huge asset.
“It definitely helps because my dad is a guy that pushes you,” he said. “Even if I played good, there’s always something I can improve.”
In terms of recruiting, Grant is hearing from Virginia Tech, North Carolina State, Syracuse, Maryland, Virginia, Georgetown, Clemson and Rutgers.
“I’m visiting Syracuse sometime soon,” he said.
Grant, who likes Virginia Tech, NC State and Syracuse right now, said he wants to decide before his senior season.
Robert Upshaw looks to improve
Robert Upshaw was one of the most impressive players at the NBPA Camp in the workouts. He has plenty of post moves and a soft touch in his jump hook.
The 6-foot-11 big man from San Joaquin Memorial (Calif.) struggled at times to bring his whole repertoire into the games, though, and he was visibly frustrated.
“Coach [Tony] Allen and Coach [Michael] Peck talked to me,” Upshaw said. “They said, ‘Cut the bull out, just work 100 percent. If you don’t score, but get a rebound or a block at the other end, it’s all good.”
Upshaw has a simple goal for the rest of the summer: “I want to be a beast.”
While he doesn’t talk much about recruiting, he did say he took a visit to UCLA.
Ricardo Gathers has four standing out
Ricardo Gathers is a physical specimen. If he showed up at a football camp, no one would bat an eye.
For now, though, Gathers is doing just fine on the hardwood.
“I want to prove I’m just as good as they are,” he said.
The 6-foot-7 forward from Riverside Academy (La.) has four schools at the top of his list: St. John’s, Texas, Arizona and LSU. Other schools in the mix include Baylor, Oregon, California and Syracuse.
Gathers plans on visiting Arizona in August, and he also wants to see Oregon and Syracuse.
A.J. Hammons determined to make an impression
A.J. Hammons has had a wild ride around the rankings in the class of 2012. He was once considered one of the top big men in the class, but injuries and sitting out hindered his reputation.
This summer, Hammons is looking to show everyone he is still the player he once was.
“I need to get back in shape,” he said. “I took off too long.”
Several schools are courting the 6-foot-10 Oak Hill Academy (Va.) big man, including Texas, Minnesota, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Purdue and Maryland.
“I want to come in and play,” Hammons said. “I don’t have to start, but I want to play.”
Mitch McGary remains mum on school list
Despite being the fastest-rising player in the country, Mitch McGary isn’t talking much about potential schools.
“I’m not at liberty to discuss schools right now,” McGary said.
The 6-foot-10 Brewster Academy (N.H.) product did take trips to Maryland, Connecticut and Kansas recently, though.
-- Former Texas Tech commit Mervyn Lindsay signed a grant-in-aid agreement Wednesday night with Kansas.
-- 2013 guard Jalen James went to the Illinois team camp Wednesday with his high school, Hope Academy (Ill.). While there, Fighting Illini coach Bruce Weber offered James a scholarship, and James quickly committed.