Welcome to A10 Talk’s Top Pre-Season Top 25 Player Countdown for the 2017-18 season. Each day, we’ll be publishing a new article counting down our best 25 players for the coming season. Today, we feature #23 Jaire Grayer of George Mason.
Our Top 25 Player Countdown is a compiled list based on voting from our staff and writers from across the league. Thanks to the following for helping configure this year’s Top 25 Atlantic 10 Player Countdown:
Grant Labedz (@GrantLabedz), Mat Shelton-Eide (@MatSheltonEide), Grant Kelly (GrantKelly07), Andrew Phung (@LoveRI401), By George (@ByGeorgeGMU), Davidson Recruiting (@DavidsonMBBRecr), Steve DiMiceli (@SteveDiMiceli), Rhody Rampage (@RhodyRampage), UMass Recruiting (@UMassRecruiting), Bona Blog (@BonaBlog), Petey Buckets (@PeteyBuckets), and UMass Ball Report (@theumbr).
What He’s Done
Seldom do you see a collegiate player make enormous improvements from freshman to sophomore year without a significant increase in playing time. Jaire Grayer is a standout exception. Going from 29.5 MPG to 29.6 was nothing, but his efficiency in a variety of different facets made big jumps.
For one, Grayer asserted himself as the dominant three point threat for George Mason moving forward. Grayer shot less than 30% from three his freshman season before shooting 38.8% all of his sophomore year, including 44.9% in conference play. That’s a major step in the right direction for a program that seldom relies on the three point shot for offense. But with Grayer’s emergence as a perimeter threat, the Patriots should look to the three more frequently. Grayer also improved his free throw shooting percentage from 55.6% to 83.3%; while he’s not someone who gets to the line frequently, this is still a promising development for George Mason’s best shooter.
Grayer improved in other areas of the game as well. He averaged 5.4 rebounds per contest compared to just 3.8 his freshman season. Also, Grayer improved on defense by more than doubling his steal and block percentages from the previous season. Again, all of these developments came without an increase in playing time.
Arguably, Grayer’s biggest performance last season was during a 95-75 rout over La Salle. The sophomore filled up the basket, shooting 8/11 from the field including 4/6 from downtown for 22 points. When Jaire Grayer established himself as a perimeter threat, it opened up so many more avenues for guys like Otis Livingston II. Mason’s point guard now has a reliable option on the wing to drive-and-kick to all of next season.
What He’ll Do
Jaire Grayer took the most three point attempts of any Patriot last year, and I expect that to remain unchanged. Marquise Moore chewed up 86% of available minutes last season, meaning we’ll see more of Grayer without him around in Fairfax this year. This means Grayer is going to have to pick up even more slack all over the court. With more playing time, we could see his numbers increase at an even more impressive rate.
For one, I expect Grayer to become GMU’s best rebounder this season. Is it possible that a 6-4 wing could lead this team on the glass? Yes, just look at Marquise Moore last season. Speaking of which, the Patriots lost 17 rebounds per game between Moore and forward Jalen Jenkins. That’s a lot of slack to pick up on the boards. Grayer is Mason’s best returning rebounder, and he should be even more dominant next season. As a sophomore, Grayer had the 16th best offensive rebounding percentage in the conference.
Grayer’s role on this 2017-18 roster can’t be overstated, but his main focal points will be shooting and rebounding. Dave Paulsen needs guys on the glass if he wants to keep up his team’s impressive rebounding numbers from last season: the Patriots were 13th in the nation in defensive rebounding percentage. While a lot of Mason’s defensive rebounding came from Moore, a good portion of its offensive rebounding, and subsequently second chance points, came from Jaire Grayer. He’ll be a major asset in his final two seasons as a Patriot.
Previously: #24 Jeff Dowtin