After a freshman season during which he started just twice in 34 appearances, Grant Jerrett contemplated transferring away from Arizona.
Jerrett came to the Wildcats as a McDonald's All-American out of Lutheran High School in La Verne, Calif., but averaged just 5.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 17.8 minutes per game. He was seventh on the team in scoring and minutes played.
Turns out Jerrett indeed did transfer, relocating his name onto the early entry list for the NBA Draft.
The 19-year-old Jerrett knew he didn't want to stay at Arizona, nor did he want to sit out one season under NCAA transfer rules.
That left the NBA as an alternative. To the shock of many, Jerrett tossed his name into the draft.
“It was a tough decision. I was going back and forth with it,” Jerrett admitted. “I just felt like if I showcased what I had in (pre-draft) workouts, that I had a good chance of doing what I wanted to do, and that was coming to the NBA.
“I view this as a chance to prove myself. It's motivation.”
OKC thought so much of Jerrett's potential that it purchased his rights for undisclosed cash considerations after Portland had selected him with the 10th pick in the second round (40th overall). Jerrett was introduced in a Saturday news conference alongside fellow draft choices Steven Adams (12th) and Andre Roberson (23rd).
The Thunder initially evaluated Jerrett at UA practices last fall, and general manager Sam Presti repeatedly praised his staff for focusing on Jerrett so early.
“We could have just as easily not been dialed in on him because he was a freshman on a very talented team,” Presti said. “Our scouts did a really good job identifying him early as a player to watch closely.”
The 6-foot-10, 232-pound Jerrett is most effective at the stretch-4 position thanks to a deft outside shooting touch. “I've always worked on (shooting) ever since I was little,” said Jerrett, who shot 40.5 percent from 3-point range last season and 81.8 percent from the free-throw line.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks often has expressed the need for a corner-3 shooting presence, a role Jerrett potentially could fill.
In a unique statistical combination, Jerrett led Arizona in 3-point shooting and blocked shots last season and admits he must add strength to become a more well-rounded power forward.
“We see him as a player who definitely can stretch the floor at that position,” Presti said. “He shoots the ball incredibly easy, and at a young age. The other thing about him that we've really been intrigued with is he's got a real sense of awareness on the floor, a great savvy offensively for a young player.”
After Jerrett's modest showing as a freshman, was Presti surprised at Jerrett's early entry into the NBA Draft?
“We've never really looked at it like, ‘Who's going to put their name in?' ” Presti said. “It's our job to prepare for everybody. That's always how we've kind of looked at it.”