SYRACUSE The Syracuse University mens basketball team is losing its top rebounder and third-leading scorer as Jerami Grant announced plans to enter the NBA Draft on Monday.
Grants decision leaves SU without three of the five starters that guided the Orange to a 25-0 start and the third round of the NCAA Tournament. Freshman guard Tyler Ennis declared for the draft on March 27 and forward C.J. Fair has completed his senior season.
The SU athletic department released a statement from Grant on Monday afternoon.
After extensive discussions with my family and coaches, I have decided to pursue my dream of playing professional basketball and enter the 2014 NBA Draft, Grant said. I am so thankful to coach (Jim) Boeheim and the rest of the Orange coaching staff for guiding me throughout my career, and am grateful to my teammates for two incredible seasons. I am excited to start my journey in the NBA, but I also look forward to finishing my college degree. I cannot thank my coaches, teammates and the entire Orange community enough for all of their support.
Grant, a sophomore forward, started 20 of Syracuses 32 games last season, suffering from back trouble that forced him to miss time late in the season.
He averaged 12.1 points per game and led the 28-6 Orange with 6.8 rebounds a game.
As a freshman, Grant played in all 40 games for Syracuse, starting nine games for the Final Four team.
Both Grant and Ennis are projected as potential first-round draft picks. The deadline to declare for the draft is April 27.
Wed like to thank Jerami for his tremendous contribution to Syracuse Basketball over the last two years, Boeheim said in a statement. We wish him well in all of his future endeavors.
Grants departure likely means that Syracuse will turn to sophomore Tyler Roberson, who had limited time in 12 games last season. Incoming recruit Chris McCullough and sophomore B.J. Johnson could also help out.
Grant didnt step into the starting lineup until 13 games into the season when center Dajuan Coleman suffered a season-ending knee injury. Grant recorded a team-high seven double-doubles during the season. He placed eighth in the ACC in rebounding average with 7.2.
Grant suffered a lower back strain that caused him to miss halves of games against Maryland and Virginia. He then sat out against Georgia Tech. Syracuse lost two of those three games.