- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
Catching Up With... is an occasional series at WolverineNation where we chat with a former Michigan athlete about what he or she has been up to since leaving Michigan. Suggestions for future Catching Up With... subjects can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last week, Gary Grant saw another one of his records broken as Michigan freshman guard Trey Burke passed him for most assists by a freshman. Now in California, Grant has watched with pride as Michigan has rebuilt itself -- in part because he has a lot to do with its initial climb to the top.
Grant is still Michigan's all-time assists leader (731) and steals leader (300) in his four-year career spanning from 1984-88. After an NBA career, Grant stayed in California, where WolverineNation caught up with him recently.
WolverineNation: What have you been up to recently?
Gary Grant: “I have a program out here in LA in Calabasas, Calif., that I deal with over 250-300 kids that I train and also work out and people can go to GoBlueHoop.com and click on that and see everything I have going on as far as working these kids out and putting them in league games on Sundays so their parents can see them play. I’m in the process right now of finding this building I’m trying to convert into basketball courts so I can get that out. If it rains out there or is windy we can’t practice outside so I’m trying to get something inside I can have all the time for myself and the kids. That’s what I’m working on now. Maybe someone from Michigan reading this can give me a call and get in contact with me and help me with the program because it’s all Go Blue. Everybody on my teams wears University of Michigan colors. I’m going to convert the courts into Go Blue colors. Everything I’m doing out here is Go Blue. Everywhere I go I wear my Go Blue stuff so everyone sees it. I just need a little bit of help from some of the alumni that can help out.”
WN: How’d you get involved with that after the NBA?
GG: “After I quit the NBA I went with Steve Fisher at San Diego State and after I did that for one year, I just said let me go and coach the little kids myself and help that way. So it was right off the bat, things I was doing on the side and it got bigger and bigger and bigger and it started with one team and now I have enough where I can have 20 different teams but I don’t put them all in the same tournaments, I mix them up so I can play at different times so their parents can enjoy what they do while they are practicing their skill work so I just keep rotating them around. I love it now. I can feel from the time they start with me, the way they dribble or shoot they get 80 to 90 percent better and that’s what I get out of that. And I’m trying to convert everybody to Michigan.”
WN: Is this self contained? An AAU program, too?
GG: “No AAU because then Michigan can’t help me out. This is just me, individually, with parents who know me and want me to work their kids out and try to get them better so they can go to high school. These are smaller kids, ages 6 to 12. It’s not like AAU where they are traveling all over the world and people can get in trouble by helping out. This is just little kids individually that I have going on myself. I just love it.”
WN: Beyond that, what else are you up to?
GG: “That’s about it. I’ve been raising my three daughters and just relaxing. This is a lot on my plate. I work every day, Monday through Saturday, and then on Sunday I put them in games so their parents can see it and then I start up the next day. In the summertime is even more crazy because we start at 8 a.m. because there is no school. Now, there’s school so in the morning I am kind of free so I do my paperwork and things like that and then they get out of school at 2:30 and I’m from 2:30-8:30, 9 p.m. I’m working with kids.”
WN: What do you take from what Michigan has been able to do the past couple of years?
GG: “We were in a big rut from me and Antoine (Joubert) and Glen Rice and Roy Tarpley and those guys when we won the Big Ten two years in a row and then the Fab Five came and brought it back on the map and after that it was real dry. Over the last couple years, they brought it back. (John) Beilein came into a situation where he almost had to restructure everything and he did a great job. I love his style and he has got them going. They are always, even when they lost to Duke in the playoffs, they had that game. I think if (Darius) Morris would have got that last shot and kicked it out to the corner, they could have hit a three to win that.
"It’s just a matter of everybody believing in what he’s trying to do and I think they are doing a great job of believing they can win and compete. That’s the main thing. He instilled that in them, that they could compete with anyone in the NCAA. They pass the ball around, they swing, they might be down 10 points and next thing you know they are down one or up two because they never give up. That’s why I like his team. They never give up and fight the whole way through. Sometimes it might seem they are out and done and next thing you know, they are right back in it. That’s just the belief of the players and the coaching staff. The last couple of years they are bringing back the Michigan basketball brand like when I was there and it is wonderful to see.”
3hTom VanHaaren and Erik McKinney