TORONTO,ON–While stories emerge everyday about student-athletes failing to qualify academically to play college basketball, this is a concern that Juwon Grannum won’t be having.
The 6-foot-6 Grannum, playing at REDA this year, is not only proficient on the hardwood, but in the classroom as well.
“I am a smart kid,” Juwon said humbly.
But basketball was not always part of the plan for him. His father Fred Gannum, who is a coach with Ballers Sports Club and Humber College, said that Juwon didn’t quite grow up with a basketball in his hands.
“There was no basketball before he was ten years old,” Fred told NPH.
“I had ended a semi-pro career on a bad note, and I didn’t want anything to do with basketball. But then my wife asked me if I was going to teach him or not.”
But from that point on, basketball became a huge part of Juwon’s life. While he was not one to take over the game, his consistency allowed him to excel at every level that he played.
“He is consistent, and we started to realize his consistency,” his father said.
“No matter what, he would get ten or twelve points. No matter what he would get ten or twelve boards.”
While being taller than most of his teammates growing up made him an automatic to play in the post, as he grew older, he realized that it was time to expand his game.
“Growing up, I used to play a lot in the post. But my dad told me that I would not be playing there at the next level. I really learnt the game a lot from him,” Juwon said.
“Growing up, I was always the biggest, so it was automatic that I would play post. But I finally got over it and realized that I needed to move outside.”
But while basketball is an important part of Juwon’s life, academics are also highly valued in the Grannum household.
“I scored a 1540 on the SAT,” Grannum said proudly, which is rather impressive considering his on-court commitments.
After completing his high school requirements last year, Juwon and his family decided that it was in the best interest of his future as a basketball player to transfer to REDA. The exposure that he would get playing alongside other highly-calibre players will give him the best opportunity to play at the college level.
While the days are long, with an hour long bus ride to and from school every day, it will be worth it in the long run for him.
“I wake up around 6:00am, then I don’t get home until around 6:00 or 7:00 at night,” explained the younger Grannum.
The recent changes to the NCAA coach-recruit contact rules will likely help him as he continues to explore his options south of the border.
“The coaches have been really diligent with him,” the elder Grannum said. “Columbia is interested. Colgate is interested. He is an Ivy League kid.”
It seems as if whichever school Juwon goes to, they will get quite the student as well.
“I want to go into engineering in college, because I really like math and science.”
Despite the long days, Juwon remains grounded, with his faith playing a significant part.
“God has had a huge influence on my life, and while we don’t always have time to go to church, my family believes.”
“And my mother of course, she has helped push me through everything in my life,” he said.
Playing basketball is just one part of Juwon Grannum’s life, as the possibility of getting a scholarship to a highly regarded school is a dream come true for the whole family.
“Aside from him playing basketball, we are really glad that he is a high academic kid and can end up at one of the really good schools. But for our son to get to that level of academics is a huge thing for us, and it is not just basketball,” his father said with a smile.
Where ever Juwon ends up, he will remain buried in his books and grounded both on and off the court.