If the sappy, fraternal tale of the Harbaugh Bowl didn’t tickle your fancy, Monday night’s game between Syracuse and Notre Dame presents a twist on the narrative.
This time, a pair of rising college hoops stars, not football coaches, are at the forefront. The Grants — Jerami of Syracuse and Jerian of Notre Dame — will square off in the Carrier Dome with Big East implications, familial bragging rights and a drawn-out storyline weighing in the balance.
Jerami, a once-sparingly used freshman reserve for the Orange, began the season as the last scholarship player in a nine-man rotation. Three months later, in the wake of an injury to starting center DaJuan Coleman and a lingering academic issue holding out super-sixth man James Southerland, the first-year forward has been thrust into a prominent role on the team. He hasn’t disappointed. The younger Grant has emerged as Syracuse’s No. 3 option on offense, averaging 9.0 points and 5.4 rebounds over his last five games. Although his play hasn’t shirked the freshman stigma — he’s still prone to youthful mistakes — Jerami has grown up quickly over the last three weeks.
Jerian, meanwhile, remembers his coming out party as a freshman quite vividly. The sophomore scoring ace burst onto the scene during his rookie campaign last season, helping guide Notre Dame to a 13-5 finish in Big East play and a double-bye in the conference tournament. The elder Grant finished third on the team and second among Big East rookies in scoring average (12.3 points per game). One year later, Jerian is the go-to option on the wing for Mike Brey’s team, a more efficient, well-rounded scorer with a better feel for the college game. The green-clad Grant brother is one year away from becoming a first-team Big East caliber player.
Jerian told Donna Ditota of the Syracuse Post Standard his younger brother has never beaten him in a one-on-one game, admitting, however, that the two bros haven’t played one another in at least four years. While the driveway bouts may favor Jerian, Jerami would gladly trade those 15 or so head-to-head losses for the first win between the two brothers — a 5-on-5 game in front of 30,000 screaming fans — that truly matters.