It seems all but a certainty that College Park graduate Quentin Grimes will hear his name in Thursday’s NBA Draft. When his name will be called is all that remains unknown.
In recent months, experts keep moving up their predictions.
Grimes, who had a standout year leading the University of Houston to the Final Four, continued his rise at last month’s NBA Draft Combine.
Some were undoubtedly caught off guard by Grimes’ spring and summer rise, but College Park coach Clifton McNeely was not among them.
“Absolutely none of it surprises me, whatsoever,” McNeely said in a Wednesday phone interview. “I understand his work ethic and how much he’s developed at the University of Houston with coach (Kelvin) Sampson, knowing how much work he’s been doing behind the scenes.”
Before the combine, which was held in Chicago, Grimes was slated as the 54th pick in the NBA draft by Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman. That mock draft was published June 15.
On July 21, after Grimes led all scorers in combine scrimmages — including a seven 3-pointer, 27-point effort — Wasserman moved him up to the No. 31 spot, which is held by the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks. In Wasserman’s final mock draft, Grimes was the 32nd pick, to the New York Knicks.
The scoring is something that was there plenty during the NCAA season for Grimes. Something that may not show up as much on the stat sheet is his growth as a defender.
“It’s night-and-day since he left Kansas,” McNeely said. “His work ethic combined with the expectations coach Sampson had of him, holding him accountable, it easily turned him into one of those tough perimeter defenders this year in college basketball.”
Bleacher Report isn’t the only publication that has Grimes rising through the mock draft ranks.
The 6-foot-5 guard didn’t appear in Yahoo! Sports’ first mock draft from Krysten Peek in January. Shortly after the NCAA Tournament wrapped up, Grimes was slated to go 50th to the Brooklyn Nets by Peek. In the two latest editions from Peek, Grimes went to the Los Angeles Clippers at No. 25.
Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo has Grimes going to the Phoenix Suns at No. 29 in his latest mock draft, and Grimes appeared in a mock draft from SI one week earlier as the No. 30 pick to the Utah Jazz.
Locally, there is some intrigue as the Houston Rockets hold picks No. 23 and 24, a little higher than most mock drafts have Grimes going. The Rockets also have the No. 2 overall pick.
Being chosen close to home appears unlikely at the moment, but if the ticket sales department in Houston had a say, it might be the right pick.
“Obviously, that would be amazing,” McNeely said. “I would become a season ticket holder of the Rockets. Wherever he ends up will be a great opportunity for him. As I told him (Wednesday), he can enjoy it now. But on Friday, he has to go back to work. He’ll have career in front of him.”
Grimes was a McDonald’s All-American, Texas Mr. Basketball, Gatorade Texas Player of the Year, two-time Montgomery County Player of the Year and a five-star recruit out of College Park. He averaged 29.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game during his senior year with College Park.
After his freshman season at the University of Kansas, Grimes declared for the NBA Draft. A little over a month later, he withdrew from the draft process and announced he would transfer from Kansas.
The rising sophomore found a home in the University of Houston. During his first season with the Cougars, Grimes averaged 12.1 points per game.
In his junior season, Grimes burst (back) onto the national scene. He averaged 17.8 points per game and was named the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year in addition to receiving Third Team All-American honors from the Associated Press, Sporting News, NABC and USBWA.
Grimes was named to the NCAA Midwest Regional All-Tournament Team as well, as he helped the Coogs get to the Final Four for the first time since 1984.
On Thursday, Grimes is poised to become the first-ever NBA Draft pick from College Park. His high school coach plans to be with Grimes and his family to witness it.
“I’m just going to be very excited for Quentin and his family, especially for Quentin,” McNeely said. “Behind the scenes, he’s been through a lot and he’s prevailed. He’s worked extremely hard to get to where he is today. I have no doubt his name’s going to be called (Thursday) night. He’s shown his resilience and ability to succeed, and because of that, it’ll be a light on our program and something for all of our young kids to look up to.”