By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer
At 6-foot-8, it’s not hard for Grant Jerrett to stand out around the La Verne Lutheran High School campus. But standing out in a student population of 150 isn’t why Jerrett is a Trojan. He’s a Trojan to make something special happen at the burgeoning basketball power and earn himself a scholarship at a big-time school. (To continue, click thread)
So far, so good on both fronts for the 16-year-old sophomore forward who can do it all as he leads La Verne Lutheran into Saturday’s CIF State Division V championship game against Branson at Cal State Bakersfield.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Jerrett said before practice on Wednesday. “The big dream I have is to win state and it’s hard to sleep now just thinking about it.”
If Jerrett, a physical and statistical standout on a team full of them, can accomplish his dream on Saturday there’s no telling what type of legacy he and his teammates will leave when they’re done.
Jerrett, along with the rest of Lutheran’s starting five, will be back next year. The thought of it gives Trojans coach Eric Cooper chills.
“We’re going to be one of the best teams in the country next year,” Cooper said. “If you look at us now, I think we’re already one of the better teams in the country, and nobody leaves. We should have some games on ESPN next year. And the year after that? Sky’s the limit.”
If it sounds like Cooper is being overconfident, nobody really can blame him. Interest from college coaches and recruiters
is gathering like crazy at the tiny La Verne campus where the likes of UCLA’s Ben Howland have been by to watch practice.
And at the center of the interest, literally, is Jerrett. Not far behind is Cooper’s son Eric, who already is wowing colleges. And he’s just a freshman.
“He’s already prime time right now,” Cooper said of Jerrett. “College coaches from around the country are following him. But he doesn’t have any idea of what’s going on. He’s such a humble person you would never know how good he was. There’s not an ounce of ego in him and that comes from his parents.”
Jerrett leads the Trojans in scoring (18.7 points per game), rebounds (10.3) and blocked shots (two). Not bad for somebody who played in just two games last year because of a broken left foot.
Lutheran’s potency doesn’t stop at Jerrett. Guard C.J. Cooper is the unquestionable leader of the team and already has multiple MVP awards to show for it. Guard Bruce English leads in steals and has a game-winning shot that beat Windward for the Southern Section Division V title to his credit.
“It’s great to be on this team because you don’t have to rely on one guy to do everything,” Jerrett said. “You have more than one player to get it done throughout the whole season. It helps that we’re all close and we hang out with each other all the time.”
Some of the closeness may come from the demands put on Lutheran’s players to practice for endless hours and give back to the school and community. So Jerrett and his teammates really have no choice but to be around each other all the time.
“They had some student day for new students when I first got here and I didn’t like it all,” said Jerrett, who has a 3.7 GPA and lives in Chino Hills. “It’s a small school compared to Ayala, but it has its benefits. The class sizes are much smaller.
“Sometimes I think about (public schools), but then I realize I’m doing something that’s going to help me do what I want to do in the future.”
Not only is Jerrett doing something to build for his future, he’s also doing something to build his legacy as Lutheran plants its flag as one of the Southland’s top basketball schools. He’s hoping a state championship on Saturday will be the perfect start.
“It would be a great feeling to turn this into something big,” Jerrett said. “When I first showed up at this school, it didn’t look like anything big. Nobody even realized the school exists. So winning games, winning CIF and winning state is going to help a lot.”