Notre Dame's first ACC basketball season was a profound letdown, with the Irish picked to finish in the upper half of the conference and then losing twice as many league games as they won. Along the way, there was no greater lament than the loss of Jerian Grant to a one-semester suspension -- and no greater question than what difference the veteran shooting guard might have made.
As of Wednesday, Grant officially can begin the process of providing answers. The 6-foot-5 playmaker has been readmitted to Notre Dame and will begin attending summer school in June, the school confirmed.
Grant played in just 12 games in 2013-14, averaging a career-best 19 points and 6.2 assists per night before an academic transgression prompted the school-issued suspension after a Dec. 21 loss to Ohio State. Grant was the lone player on the Irish roster capable of finding his own shot -- while also creating for others -- and Notre Dame's lack of a suitable replacement was a significant factor in a 6-12 ACC campaign.
How much his presence will change things in 2014-15 remains to be seen. Grant and senior-to-be Pat Connaughton (13.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg) will be reliable cogs, but the Irish will be young and/or unproven at nearly every other spot. Former coveted recruit Demetrius Jackson must rebound from a dismal freshman season to take over at point guard, forward Zach Auguste (6.7 ppg) must grow into his potential as an offensive and defensive force in the paint and bit players such as Austin Burgett, Steve Vasturia and V.J. Beachem -- none of whom averaged more than five points per game -- must instantly become significant contributors. In an ACC landscape that adds Louisville, that's a good deal of uncertainty, even with Grant back. But he's a veteran playmaker with 20-point-per-night potential who has something to prove. There are worse foundations upon which to rebuild a team.