Granger eager for next challenge
GW manager-turned-player busy on and off the court
By Eric Detweiler, GW Athletics Communications
Jack Granger's willingness to tackle any challenge with a bounce in his step and a smile made him a good fit as a GW men's basketball manager.
Over the past three years, the Connecticut native built a reputation for handling every job -- from water bottle filler to practice drill passer to laundry attendant -- with the same energy.
Naturally, Granger has brought that attitude to his new role as a walk-on guard. He particularly needed it when he and Yuta Watanabe were the only Colonials on campus for the first six weeks of summer school.
All things considered, the 5-foot-7 Granger made a fine workout partner for Watanabe, a 6-foot-9 forward and budding NBA prospect.
"It's what I had to do," Granger said. "I knew that I had a lot of ground to cover if I wanted to be able to compete with these guys."
With his first season in a GW uniform looming, Granger has more on his plate than ever, but he wouldn't have it any other way. He's continued to find time for an ambitious courseload toward a marketing degree and to volunteer with a pair of community service organizations.
Granger's ability to balance it all has been tested as he adjusts to life on the court with the Colonials. So far, he's impressed Head Coach Maurice Joseph with his smooth transition.
"He's a special kid," Joseph said. "He basically carries the values that I want my players -- whether it be a star player or a walk-on -- to embody."
On the court, Granger earned this unlikely chance thanks to his dedicated commitment to the program and contagious spirit.
Never a star at Coginchaug Regional High School in Connecticut, he figured his competitive career was finished when he picked GW.
His older brother Roby was already a manager with the Colonials, so that seemed like a good path to stay around the game. He could stoke his desire for competition with staff pick-up games and intramurals.
Granger savored his rare chances to show off his skills for the coaches at practice, but he never thought of those moments as auditions.
Nonetheless, Joseph was impressed.
"He's all toughness, all grit, all energy," Joseph said.
When Joseph was looking to fill out his roster with walk-ons last spring, he asked Granger if he'd be interested. It was an emotional conversation for both of them.
"I've had opportunities here that I never even imagined possible," Granger said. "Through basketball, I've been to Hawaii to Japan. Now I'm on the team, which is something I never could have thought would happen. I'm just thankful for it, I guess."
Off the court, Granger is still the same guy. That consistency was important to him.
Last year, fellow manager Jordan Hill got Granger involved with Camp Kesem, a group that sends children who have been affected by a parent's cancer to summer camp.
Granger went through the training necessary to be a counselor. It worked out that his session fell on one of the two weeks between the end of summer school and the beginning of the fall semester.
After a summer heavy on gym and class time, Granger used his first break in months to oversee a cabin with nine boys aged 11-13 in Jefferson, Md. The week featured camp staples like games and crafts but also time for more serious discussion.
"Honestly, I'm really glad that I did it," Granger said. "It was a really rewarding experience to see what the kids got out of it."
Granger's other passion project takes center stage Saturday. He's an officer with the GW chapter of Gift of Life, a national bone marrow registry that helps match potential donors with blood cancer patients in need of transplants.
Granger got involved with Gift of Life GW through his friendship with its president Caroline Bello, whose father lost his battle to cancer last year.
Granger and other Colonials across the athletic department will participate in the organization's largest drive of the school year in conjunction with World Marrow Donor Day. (See side box for more info.)
Last year, student-athletes from both basketball programs and men's water polo helped at the event to collect cheek swab samples, one of which led to a match that could eventually result in a life-saving transplant.
In all, the GW chapter has collected more than 2,000 samples over about 50 drives since its founding in 2015, resulting in eight matches and two transplants.
Granger has been at most of them, including the first one of the new school year two weeks ago. He made his way there directly from an offseason workout at the Charles E. Smith Center, of course.
"It would be super easy for him not to do that," Bello said. "The fact that he is still that motivated and involved it's incredible. I've been friends with him for a long time, so I expect a lot out of him, but I didn't expect that."
For Granger, it's merely business as usual. He was already at pretty much every GW practice and game, so his schedule hasn't changed all that much from past years. He smiled his way through every manager chore imaginable, so he can certainly appreciate where he's at now.
There's plenty of time for everything he wants to do. He's ready for another challenge.
"I like to keep busy," Granger said. "I've found when I have a lot of free time it's easy to get lazy and complacent. When I'm busy, it keeps me going, keeps me driven and I can stay on top of my school work and everything else."
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