Grant casts large shadow on campus
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 10/19/2001

AMHERST - Compared to the guy standing next to him at Saturday's University of Massachusetts football game, Kitwana Rhymer looked small, or at least average by comparison.

When you're 6-foot-10, 256 pounds that doesn't happen often, but Saturday Rhymer was standing next to Damion Grant, a senior center at Wolfboro Brewster Academy in New Hampshire who was taking his official visit to UMass.

Photo - click for larger image
Damion Grant (right) loomed large at Midnight Madness. Signee Stephen Briggs and freshman Brennan Martin accompany him off the court. photo
"Obviously he's big," said Brewster coach Jason Smith. "We list him at 6-11, but he's probably closer to 7-foot-1."

Internet recruiting services list the Jamaica native at anywhere from 260-290 pounds, but Smith assured that Grant is not a lumberer.

"He has a big-time body, but he's extremely athletic for his size," Smith said. "He can run and jump all day long."

Grant's story strays far from the normal recruiting story.

This will be only his second season of organized basketball and he's spent no time in AAU or at any of the major summer camps. Smith said Grant's learning curve and improvement potential compensate for current lack of polish.

"He's like a sponge. He picks up everything so fast. He's so eager to learn," Smith said. "He gets better with each passing day. He doesn't have any of the bad habits that another kid might have at this point."

Unlike some prep schools, Brewster isn't an SAT prep factory. Grant has already achieved the necessary standardized test score to be eligible as a freshman.

Grant will visit Seton Hall this weekend and has gotten interest from Florida State and Tulane as well.

Grant was at Midnight Madness in Amherst and sat clapping with Stephen Briggs, another big man who has given UMass a verbal commitment.

UMass coach Steve Lappas recently took a recruiting trip to Jamaica for an in-home visit with Grant's parents.

Smith wasn't sure if Grant planned on signing early or not.

* * *

Of the four players making their UMass debuts this year, Lappas said that point guards Anthony Anderson and Kyle Wilson are furthest along.

"That's because they're playing the position they've played they're whole lives," said Lappas. "Raheim Lamb is making the adjustment of being a four to the perimeter. Brennan Martin is making the adjustment from being a three/four in high school to being a full-time perimeter player. He's not real physically strong right now."

* * *

After three years of an offense that was Monty Mack and everybody else, Lappas speculated that this season will likely feature more of the everybody else.

"I see this team is an equal opportunity team," Lappas said.

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