The old Capital Centre in Landover, once the home of the Washington Bullets, is now a memory, but still a very vivid one for former ball boy Jerai Grant.
“From cleaning up sweat as a ball boy to where I am now, you just grow up to admire it,” Grant said.
Grant is now a 6-foot-8 power forward at Clemson, and an NBA prospect who is cleaning up the court in a very different way these days.
The son of former Bullets/Wizards forward Harvey Grant, Jerai Grant was one of several players invited to the Wizards’ first pre-draft workout Saturday, along with Georgetown seniors Chris Wright and Julian Vaughn.
“I’m really excited. Anytime you get an opportunity like this, you have to thank the Lord for it,” Grant said. “It’s a lot of hard work and effort at this point. I’m extremely psyched. I want to thank the Wizards for giving me this opportunity. I’m ready to keep working hard and get my game better and ready for the next level.”
Grant said his father’s advice was to simply “be ready.” Harvey Grant played in the NBA for 11 seasons, seven of them with Washington from 1988-93, and again from 1996-1998.
“It’s kind of surreal just to be here right now,” said the younger Grant. “I just have to knuckle down and get to work.”
Vaughn and Wright may have traveled a much shorter path than Grant - the Wizards’ practice court is just a few feet down the hall from the Georgetown locker room - but it’s still a long way from college to the NBA.
“It’s definitely a new experience for sure,” Vaughn said. “You’re a professional now. It’s your job now.”
Vaughn said he sought advice from former Hoyas playing in the NBA, including the Indiana Pacers’ Roy Hibbert and the Detroit Pistons’ Greg Monroe.
“It’s good to get that first workout under your belt, to just stay focused and keep working hard,” he said.
In addition to finishing school, Vaughn said his schedule includes running as many as three miles a day and staying in the gym to lift and work on conditioning.
“Obviously, I’m a big Wizards fan. There’s a lot of talent out there,” Wright said. “I think it [the workout] went pretty well. It was fun. We got great instruction from the coaches. Coach [John] Thompson just told me to work hard, be positive, and just be myself.”
After shaking off a few nerves at Verizon Center, Wright and Grant will have their second workouts at an NBA combine at the New Jersey Nets’ practice facility May 7-8. All players must decide by May 8 if they will declare for the NBA draft.
About 44 players have been invited, and the combine is open to all 30 NBA teams. Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld said in his postseason interview that he and the coaching staff plan to attend.