Heading into the 2020-21 season, Grant Sherfield is poised to become a National name, potential All-American. How did he get to this point? From ranked 164th in the 2019 recruiting class, formed into a top-20 player in America.
So, where did the journey begin?
Born in Wichita, Sherfield found Basketball at a young age — “I spent a lot of time in gyms honing my skills, thanks to several coaches, and my dad who played Basketball at an HBCU, I was really able to learn the concepts of the game at an early age, it made me highly skilled and mature.”
Entering his teenage years, Sherfield’s family moved to Fort Worth, Texas to pursue career opportunities. “We moved to Texas when I was 13 years old, so my dad could advance his career in education (my mom was already a principal), Texas AAU was evolving, so it was a great move, great timing. Sherfield said, ” I played with Marcus Smart’s Adidas Grassroots program in AAU and was able to gain national exposure as I entered my Freshman year.”
That recognition early on led to offers from prestigious programs such as Baylor, Kansas, Oklahoma State, and Texas. Landing offers of that magnitude at 15-years-old isn’t super common.
On October 30, 2017, Sherfield announced his commitment to UCLA. Westwood will always be an enticing destination for recruits, thanks to their “Blue Blood” history and location. Furthermore, they are fresh off a season where Lonzo Ball took the country by storm.
The extensive history of the Bruins played a part. Sherfield said, “I chose UCLA because (Steve) Alford recruited me early, and the history of the program.”
Getting comfortable with coaching staff during recruitment is an essential piece of the process. — “I developed a trustworthy relationship with Alford and Coach (Duane) Brossard. They were authentic and candid from the jump.” Sherfield said
The relationship with Steve Alford would pay dividends years later, the second time around when Sherfield later became available once again.
While Sherfield became a superstar in the DFW (Dallas Fort-Worth area) at North Crowley high, “A tradition-rich program with a highly successful coach,” he said. But it wasn’t exactly a hotbed for producing Division One caliber talent, as Lousiana Tech’s Isaiah Crawford is the lone Division One player from Sherfield’s days at North Crowley. Many burgeoning recruits move to Prep schools to face better competition. That happened for Sherfield when he moved onto Sunrise Christian Academy, located in his hometown of Wichita.
“It was tough leaving North Crowley,” Sherfield told me. “It allowed me to face Division One competition every day in practice, which prepared us for a run to the Geico Championship,”
The 2018-19 Sunrise Christian roster wasn’t short of talent. Sherfield was Sunrise Christian’s 6th highest-ranked recruit in his respective recruiting class. (per 247sports), behind N’Faly Dante (Oregon), Malik Hall (Michigan State), Tray Jackson (Missouri, now Seton Hall), Austin Crowley (Ole Miss), and Jordan Turner (Baylor). Each of those players committed to High-Major schools.
December 31, 2018, a mere two days after UCLA got dismantled by Liberty at home, UCLA parted ways with Steve Alford after 5+ years at the helm. A brutal blow for UCLA signee Grant Sherfield, who put pen to paper on his letter of intent one month earlier. The firing forced Sherfield’s hand to withdraw his letter of intent from UCLA, saying, ” Coach Alford was let-go, and I decided de-commit from UCLA.”
Sherfield wasn’t short on options after removing his pledge, as he visited three schools in the following months, Wake Forest, Minnesota, and hometown Wichita State while receiving severe attention from numerous other schools across the country.
Ultimately, family ties always win out, as Sherfield reiterated in this circumstance, “I chose WSU because I wanted to play in front of my grandparents and friends, coupled with the recent success of the program.”
During his freshman season at Wichita, Sherfield had a productive season for the Shockers. In 30 games, the local guard produced 8.1 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists per game, the Shockers were in the thick of contention for an NCAA Tournament bid before the surging COVID-19 pandemic put the world on pause. Seven scholarship players, including Sherfield, put their names in the portal following the season. That had the wheels spinning for many fans across the country.
Why was Wichita State, who had a winning coach with a roster that nearly made the tournament the prior season, losing players at an alarming rate during a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic? When you can’t visit potential new schools?
The mysteries had explanations when Jeff Goodman of Stadium released a detailed investigation into the toxic culture instilled by head coach Gregg Marshall.
Sherfield said, “Unfortunately, the coaching culture was unhealthy and not a good fit for me or many teammates.” Later saying “I struggled with the decision because of the fan base, my teammates, and I was home, but the deteriorating environment gave me little choice.”
Marshall resigned amidst the investigation. But it wasn’t enough to keep many of the players in Wichita, as six ended up transferring (Morris Udeze stayed). The Shockers officially promoted interim coach Isaac Brown to the head coach after shockingly making the NCAA Tournament in 2021.
I stated earlier, Coach Alford (now at Nevada) and Sherfield’s bond would pay dividends down the road, when on March 23, Sherfield decided he’d play for the Nevada Wolf Pack.
Sherfield felt comfortable playing under a coach that pursued him heavily several years ago — stating, “I chose to reunite with Coach Alford at Nevada, simply because our relationship we established.”
Now three years into College, Sherfield had words of wisdom to share with younger recruits facing tough decisions. “If I had to share anything with the Young Ballers coming up, I’d say make sure you chose a situation where you can learn, make mistakes, and grow.” Also adding, “Chose a coach who will hold you to a high standard, but believes in you.”
In Sherfield’s first season at Nevada, he amassed 18.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, 6.1 assists, leading the Wolf Pack in two categories. Nevada didn’t have lofty expectations as Lindsey Drew, Jazz Johnson, and Jalen Harris moved on from College. That left many unknowns surrounding Steve Alford’s crew, but Sherfield showed why he belongs in the preseason All-America debate for 2021-22.
He plays the game with tremendous pace, has a great feel in addition for making difficult shots. Sherfield rattled in two game-winning shots last season, one being the eventual death blow to Colorado State’s NCAA Tournament hopes. On that evening in Reno, their star guard wasn’t having his best outing; he’d been struggling in the last three games. The prior two against Utah State, the Wolf Pack’s star, went 6-21 for 17 points in two losses. In a close game against Colorado State, he was only 6-16 from the field and 0-7 from deep with less than 60 seconds to play. — a pair of Kendle Moore free throws knotted the score at 82 all, followed by a Sherfield turnover. The next possession resulted in Colorado State repaying the favor, turning the ball over on the ensuing possession. Twelve seconds remain; what time is it? Sherfield time — draining a walk-off contested 30 foot jumper with Isaiah Stevens all over him on the shot. Not every player is willing to take a 30-foot shot with time elapsing when you haven’t connected on a three all night. If you’re a superstar player, having a short memory is paramount.
The Wolf Pack rank top-25 heading into the next College Hoops season in my preliminary rankings for the season, tipping off on November 9. when Nevada plays Eastern Washington in the season opener. Aside from Sherfield, Nevada returns Desmond Cambridge (16.3 PPG), an absolute game-changing scorer. A formidable big-man tandem of incumbent Warren Washington (10 PPG, 6 RPG), the benefactor of many delightful passes from Sherfield into the dunker spot. The other half the duo is Texas transfer Will Baker, a five-star recruit a few years ago. Baker’s final two schools out of high school were Texas and UCLA and were pursued heavily by Coach Alford at UCLA. Baker moves exceptionally well for a true 7-footer and brings floor-stretching ability that Washington doesn’t.
Other transfers include AJ Bramah from Robert Morris (21 PPG, 10 RPG) and Kenan Blackshear from FAU. The Wolf Pack are veteran-laden and uber-talented with a head coach that knows how to succeed in the harshest environments throughout the Mountain West Conference. The most grueling environment in the conference is the Wolf Pack’s home arena, Lawlor Events Center — where Nevada only lost six games in conference play from (2016-20)
Coach Alford believes in his guys. And having someone that beliefs in you could alter your life, just like Grant Sherfield’s parents told him from a young age, “It only takes one person to believe in you and change the trajectory of your life.” That rings true in this case — Alford would’ve coached Sherfield at UCLA, but that belief led to Sherfield crossing paths with Alford in the next stop of his career.