HANSEN

Greg Hansen: Jerrett learning on the job, at rapid pace

2012-12-19T00:00:00Z 2012-12-19T11:07:58Z Greg Hansen: Jerrett learning on the job, at rapid paceGreg Hansen Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 19, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Ten games into his senior season at LaVerne (Calif.) Lutheran High School, Grant Jerrett had scored 243 points, had grabbed 124 rebounds and, I'm guessing, never had a shot blocked. Not even close.

There were a lot of things Jerrett rarely saw in December of 2011: a hand in his face, an opponent at eye-level, someone posting him up and a seat on the bench.

In his new basketball life, as an Arizona freshman, Jerrett has been introduced to all of the above. Over and over and over.

Tuesday night against Oral Roberts, a middlin' team that hasn't been ranked for a million years, Jerrett came off the bench and almost immediately caught a pass from Mark Lyons. Open. Three feet from the bucket.

Jerrett did what he would've done at LaVerne. He grabbed the ball with both hands and rose, seemingly unopposed, for what was going to be a monster, two-handed slam.

But before Jerrett could complete the stuff, Oral Roberts' 6-9 senior Damen Bell-Holter came seemingly out of nowhere and stuffed the would-be stuffer.

Even on the best night of his young college basketball career, a now-you-know-what-all-the-fuss-was-about performance in which Jerrett scored 15 points in just 21 minutes, he was reminded that he's no longer playing against the Ontario Christian Knights.

Nine games into a college basketball career isn't enough to make any definitive projections, but as Arizona whipped ORU 89-64 Tuesday, there became a growing notion that Jerrett and freshmen sidekicks Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski have caught on.

If they are still in Wildcat uniforms in 2014 (and beyond), Jerrett, Ashley and Tarczewski have the capacity to be scary good, Final Four good, but that's not the point of this bulletin.

The purpose is rather to reinforce that their gradual acceleration is predictable. On Tuesday, they floored it.

"I thought their freshmen were terrific," said ORU coach Scott Sutton. "They just whipped us, and we've got a good front line."

Jerrett is a steady-as-he-goes, quiet and confident player whose coach, Sean Miller, on Tuesday called him "one of the most unselfish kids I've ever been around."

If Jerrett was jazzed about his best college performance, he didn't let it leak. He merely shook his head, without changing expressions, when asked if beating Florida three days earlier had added to his confidence.

"I'm just trying to make the simple play," he said.

He left it to Miller to be more descriptive.

"Grant Jerrett broke out tonight," the coach said. "If he plays along these lines every night, it's exciting to think what he can do."

This business of breaking into big-time college basketball isn't and never has been routine.

In Jason Terry's first 10 Arizona games, he scored 14 points and twice didn't get off the bench. In Khalid Reeves' first 10 Arizona games, he had 25 turnovers and only 60 points. Andre Iguodala started just four games as a UA freshman. Those three became lottery picks.

Ashley and Jerrett had their most productive cumulative game at Arizona, 29 points, and it didn't go unappreciated by senior Solomon Hill.

"They just stay with it," Hill said. "They're two patient guys still learning, still finding their way in the offense. Grant had a great shooting night, and Brandon was efficient. They keep growing, keep learning the system."

Kansas senior Jeff Withey - once an incoming UA freshman before transferring- is probably one of the two leading big men in college basketball this year, but his debut was at tortoise-speed. He did not play in the first 11 games of his redshirt freshman season at KU and scored only 19 points the entire season.

Use that as a barometer by which to measure Arizona's precocious freshmen. Time is on their side.

Future NBA lottery pick Michael Dickerson averaged just 9.5 minutes his freshman season at Arizona. Future Final Four center Joseph Blair scored in double figures just three times as a UA freshman, with five starts.

By comparison, Ashley, Jerrett and Tarczewski are out of the blocks much more quickly.

"I've been pretty consistent in describing that Grant, for a long period of time, might've been our team's best player in practice," Miller said. "But early in a guy's career, through the first five or six games, sometimes it doesn't translate into the game. Tonight Grant was more of what we see all the time. It's just a matter of time until his talent will take over."

Jerrett's demeanor and his approach are plus-plus.

"It's all seriousness out there," he said of the club's practice sessions. "It's not something to mess with. We all take basketball really serious. It's like a job to us."

In their first extended road series as college players, three games in Hawaii that begin Saturday, Ashley and Jerrett will continue to evolve from newbies to key pieces of a Final Four contender.

"We're trying to get perfection here," Miller said Tuesday night.

That's the best clue that his freshmen big men are long past the break-in period.

Contact Greg Hansen at 573-4362 or ghansen@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Pac-12 basketball standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
Arizona 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Arizona State 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
California 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Colorado 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Oregon 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Oregon State 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Stanford 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
UCLA 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
USC 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Utah 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Washington 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Washington State 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000

AP Top 25


Pac-12 basketball schedule

Teams Date Time
Azusa Pacific at
Washington State
11/7 12:00 am
Cal Poly Pomona at
Arizona
11/9 4:00 pm
Mount St. Mary's at
Arizona
11/14 6:00 pm
Coppin State at
Oregon
11/14 10:00 pm
Detroit at
Oregon
11/17 9:00 pm
Cal-Irvine at
Arizona
11/19 7:00 pm
Oral Roberts at
Oregon State
11/21 7:00 pm
Texas-Pan American at
Utah
11/26 6:00 pm
Northern Colorado at
Colorado
12/13 4:00 pm
Washington State at
Santa Clara
12/13 8:00 pm
Grambling at
Oregon State
12/15 8:00 pm
Grambling at
Washington
12/17 9:00 pm
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