SYLACAUGA -- Shannon Grant on Monday signed a letter-of-intent to play basketball at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, the college announced.
Grant is the second player from Sylacauga High School in the last decade to sign a Division I basketball scholarship. Justin Browning signed with Western Carolina in 2011.
“I am ready to get there and start working out,” Grant said. “I want to make some improvements to my body because there are a lot of people that told me in the summertime that I have a good chance to be professional with my skill set. It is just a matter of improving my body, losing some weight, gaining some athleticism and getting faster.”
Grant had several other offers, but he felt Mercer had everything he was looking for in a school.
“The coaches told me that no matter what, that they were going to take care of me and make sure that I was good,” Grant said. “I wanted to go to a college where my family and friends could come see me play.
“(Another reason) is being able to play right away. I had bigger schools that recruited me, but I had to be realistic with myself that I wouldn’t play my first year there. I know if I go to Mercer, I will play a lot my first year.”
Grant had a stellar senior season for the Aggies. The second-team all-state selection averaged 17 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks per game. The 6-foot-10 forward led the Aggies (23-10) to the Class 5A Southeast Regional Tournament final, where they fell to Ramsay 76-52.
Sylacauga head coach Will Fullington wanted to hold a signing ceremony for Grant, but that was not possible because schools are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fullington was elated Grant was able to accomplish his goal of playing at the next level.
“What he has done for Sylacauga in the three-year run that he had, you really can’t compare because he has done so much,” Fullington said. “He has taken his game to the next level this season for us on the perimeter. I don’t think people realize how good a perimeter player he was for us and how many touches he had.
“Look back at the highlights throughout the season -- I didn’t realize how well he passed out of the post. He had unbelievable vision.
“I think Mercer is getting a diamond in the rough. I think he is only going to get better. Once he is on a college conditioning and workout program every single day, his potential is through the roof.”
Mercer head coach Greg Gary was thrilled to have Grant officially in the program.
"I'm very excited that Shannon is joining our family," Gary said in a press release Monday. "He has tremendous size and is very skilled. I'm looking forward to getting him to campus."
Grant showed growth in his game this season.
The Aggies’ big man had his full arsenal on display in a 54-52 win against Tallassee in the Sweet 16. He scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. He also had a pair of timely assists in the fourth quarter to help the Aggies advance.
“He was a do-everything kind of guy,” Fullington said. “I was really pleased with the way he bought into walling up around the rim and not chasing wild blocks. He was able to stay out of foul trouble and play more quality minutes. He had more fun this year just showcasing his ability than any of the other years. It was a fun run to be a part of. Mercer is getting a really special kid.”
Not having access to a gym hasn’t stopped Grant from preparing for his freshman season at Mercer.
“Right now, my brother and I go to a track nearby, and we run every day,” Grant said. “We do up-and-downs and sprints. I am doing ladder drills; I have a weight set, so I lift weights a little bit. I do ab (abdominal) work and pushups every day.”
Grant is thankful for everyone who played a role in making his dream into a reality.
“I want to thank God, my Lord and Savior, for allowing me to have this opportunity,” he said. “I have to thank the women in my life -- my aunties, my grandma and most importantly, my mom. Another person that I would like to thank is my brother.
“I would like to thank my coaches -- Coach Fullington, my AAU coaches. I would like to thank Coach (Joel) Jones, (Cecil) Hollinquest, (Christopher) Smith and all the coaches from Sylacauga High. Most importantly, I would like to thank (former Aggies head) Coach (Will) Copeland. He is not at Sylacauga now, but he played a major role in me growing up and maturing me not only as a basketball player but as a young man. I have not gotten in touch with him lately, but I know he is proud of me.”