Damion Grant Interview

WOLFEBORO, N.H. –- During <I>Inside Carolina</I>'s trip to Brewster Academy last Saturday evening, we interviewed Damion Grant, the center that North Carolina now covets.

The soft-spoken, yet affable, senior big man was hovered over a pregame plate of chicken nuggets and french fries smothered in ketchup when we located him in the Estabrook dining hall, a basement cafeteria on the Brewster campus.

IC: Supposedly there's an interesting story about how you came to the U.S. …

Grant: I've always wanted to play basketball, but never had the opportunity before. There was a basketball court about a half hour away from where I was living (in Hope Day, Jamaica).

My grandfather went into this store to buy some tennis shoes for me – and he and the store manager started up a conversation about my shoe size (size 17, at that point). The store manager introduced him to a guy who knew about recruiting and then he helped my grandfather get me over here.

IC: Why did you decide to enroll at Kensington (Md.) Newport?

Grant: Newport has had a very good basketball program for years and he recommended that situation. I was playing on an AAU team (the Potomac Blue Devils) at the AAU Nationals in Orlando. The Newport coach saw me there and told me about his school.

IC: But your season was interrupted by injuries?

Grant: I got hurt in January – it was a torn meniscus. I didn't play again after I got hurt and had the surgery.

IC: Despite not playing past Jan., you had some interest from Div. I schools ...

Grant: Seton Hall was the (biggest) school, although there were others.

IC: Why did you choose not to take the offer from Seton Hall and prep instead?

Grant: I knew I needed to get better. I didn't have the experience. I didn't think I was ready to play at the college level just yet. I could have redshirted (at Seton Hall), but I wanted to come here for another year of high school.

IC: Any reason you chose Brewster Academy?

Grant: Well, I had some other options, but here I knew I would get the playing time that I needed to get better.

IC: It's kind of in the middle of nowhere, no?

Grant: It's not bad at all, and it kind of reminds of home a little bit. It's really quiet, the people are friendly, it's just really nice. I love it here.

IC: How has the Brewster experience been for you?

Grant: It's sort of like a college atmosphere. The environment is just more structured. We take four classes a day, almost like in college. And you're responsible to get there. That's the environment they try to have, to prepare you for college life.

IC: How has the New England prep school competition been for you?

Grant: It's very competitive, but I think I'm holding my own. It's a challenge – you have to play with good players because they'll make you better.

IC: Did the sudden interest from big name schools catch you off guard?

Grant: Yeah, it has, sort of. I kind of knew it was going to happen, but just didn't know it was going to happen right now -– this early in the season. I don't know what they expect to see –- right now -– I'm just trying to go out there, play hard and try to help my team win some games.

IC: How have you been in communication with the interested colleges?

Grant: They are allowed one phone call per week –- so they call, or I call them every now and then and let them know what's going on.

IC: What type of things do you talk about with them?

Grant: About my development. What they see in me as a player. What they need. Stuff like that.

IC: Which Carolina assistant have you been in contact with?

Grant: (Doug) Wojcik.

IC: You've taken three of your five official visits thus far?

Grant: Well, I have two visits left. The first one I went to was UMass, then I went to Seton Hall, and the third one was La Salle.

IC: And you almost went down to visit your girlfriend at Carolina last month, right?

Grant: I was supposed to be driving down with my girlfriend's parents, but I got home late, so I wasn't able to go down.

IC: So, who's going to get those two visits?

Grant: I'm not sure.

IC: Who are the candidates?

Grant: Definitely North Carolina, Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana. From those four.

IC: Do you follow college basketball at all?

Grant: I do. I didn't in Jamaica, but when I got here I got caught up. (The four aforementioned schools) are some of the elite programs in the country -- I understand that.

IC: Do you watch any of those teams play on T.V.?

Grant: I can, but I don't have any time for that. With school, practice, homework and all that, I don't have time to watch TV all that much.

IC: Having followed the game some, are there any pro or college players you aspire to be like?

Grant: Kevin Garnett. Rasheed Wallace. I love the way they play, with their emotion and skills.

IC: Since this is only your second year playing hoops, how have you been progressing?

Grant: I've been working hard at it and it's a process. I've definitely come a long way. I love the game -– it's a passion.

IC: What are your strengths on the court at this point?

Grant: Defensively, my shotblocking, rebounding.

IC: And how about on offense?

Grant: The offense is there at times, on-and off, it's not constant. That's what Coach (Jason) Smith is working with me -– offensive moves, getting it down low, post up moves that I'm comfortable with.

IC: You're listed at 245 pounds. Is that the weight you want to be at?

Grant: I want to get it up to 255, 260. That'd be good.

IC: What type of weight room work are you doing up here?

Grant: There's a program here at the school that's called Advanced Weight Training. It's six days a week. My max bench is 255 pounds.

IC: You've got two visits left and the signing period is four months away. Any timetable to start to move toward a decision?

Grant: I know that once I take those visits, I'll be able to make my decision. I might only take one, but we'll see. We haven't really set a timetable for the visits.


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