Jacob Grandison had his first shot at suiting up for the Illini this past season after sitting out the 2019-20 season per NCAA transfer rules. The Holy Cross transfer felt like a wild card at the beginning of the year. Through practice film and word-of-mouth we knew Grandison could be effective behind the arc and add some length to the roster, it was hard to gauge how he would fit in this roster in the fall.
Grandison went on to prove himself and even earned himself a starting role down the crucial stretch of the season starting 16 out of the last 17 games. His impact was noticeable too, the Illini went 15-2 over that stretch. After having the lead role at Holy Cross, Grandison settled in nicely contributing on both ends of the floor and adding another “glue guy” to the squad. Perhaps what fans might appreciate the most though his the maturity and presence Grandison shows on the court. Even though it was his first year in uniform, Grandison conducted himself like a vet.
On the season Grandison numbers may not jump off the page, the Junior averaged 4.6 points and 3.4 rebounds per game on the season. However, over the last 16 games, those numbers increased to 6.2 points and 4.2 boards. Grandison shot 41% from the behind-the arc going 17 for 41 on the season. His field goal percentage wasn't too bad either, going 50 for 95 on the season shooting 53% on field goals. Grandison only averaged 15 minutes per game despite starting the last half of the season.
Grandison only reached the line for 23 attempts this year, but he did shoot 96% from the line. I would expect that to be a point of emphasis for Grandison this offseason. He showed the ability to get to the rim and play above the rim even this past season. If Grandison can find ways to get to the line next year he will even further his impact.
With teammate Ayo Dosunmu double-doubles this past season along with freshman Andre Curbelo showing double-double ability, a lot of fans forget Grandison double-double at the home matchup against Iowa on January 29th. Probably his most complete outing of the year Grandison posted and 11 points 10 rebounds double-double in the top 25 matchup. At the time the Illini had slipped to 19th nationally hosting the No. 7 Hawkeyes, Grandison was a huge part of that win.
With all the big headlines only a month into this offseason, the roster for next year's squad is becoming more and more clear. There is no question Grandison will hold a big role next year but with how deep this roster is looking the senior will have to earn his minutes along with the rest of the team. A 6-foot-6 G/F with his length defensively, shooting ability from behind the arc, and production last year; it's hard to see a scenario where Grandison won’t be in the starting rotation next year.
Only averaging 15 minutes a game this year, if Grandison can get himself more minutes I wouldn't be surprised if he exceeds the expectations of Illini Nation next year.