In the past decade, Arizona has had a history of producing NBA-quality players with a nice stroke from outside — center Channing Frye and forward Derrick Williams in particular.
This year, freshman Grant Jerrett is sporting a similar skill-set, and after the first week of practice he’s starting to live up to the precedent set by former players.
“Jerrett has been one of the early season surprises,” head coach Sean Miller said. “I knew of his talent and [have] great belief in him as a player, but you don’t always know how soon things are going to come.”
Jerrett’s track record, so far, has shown the talent emerging already.
During each week of practice, the player with the best statistical performance through all six days becomes the “gold standard player of the week,” and dons a gold jersey the next practice.
Jerrett earned the honor in the team’s first week of practice. The gap between the freshman and the second best player that week — senior Solomon Hill — was significant, Miller said.
“I think it just shows that [Jerrett] has really gotten better since the summer and I’m really excited about his progress,” Miller told the Tucson Citizen.
“Jerrett could be one of our team’s best shooters. He gives us a different look when he’s in there, whether he’s at the four or five, because he’s a little bit like Derrick Williams.”
Jerrett’s range makes him a defensive mismatch at power forward, but the freshman said his biggest concern this season is doing the dirty work.
“My goal [is] rebounding. Little things like that just helps spark the team up with fire,” Jerrett said. “And just to help get wins, anything possible — shooting, whatever Coach wants me to do, I’m gonna do it.”
In Sunday’s Red-Blue scrimmage, the 6-foot-10 Jerrett shot an efficient 5-for-8 from the field for 14 points, including an early three pointer, grabbed a game-high eight rebounds and dished out four assists in 25 minutes of action.
“Jerrett has to be one of the most versatile big men I’ve ever seen in my life,” freshman forward Brandon Ashley said. “The fact that he can shoot the ball so well, yet is so skilled inside, is huge.”
While two of the Wildcats’ four highly touted freshmen — Gabe York and Kaleb Tarczewski — struggled during their first action in front of the sold-out McKale Center crowd, Jerrett thrived.
The McDonald’s All-American didn’t stand out with flashy dunks or highlight plays, but he submitted one of the game’s best performances.
“He has a smooth game,” senior Kevin Parrom said. “You can tell he’s been around the game for a long time. He’s been playing since he’s been little. It comes easy to him on the offensive end and defensive end. He’s very skilled … he can take you inside, out, he can do whatever.”
Jerrett’s wide wingspan also makes him a force on the glass and a defensive presence down low, Parrom said. He showed his defensive ability Sunday too, finishing with a block and a steal.