SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- Notre Dame basketball player Jerian Grant says he appreciates his teammates more after being suspended from school and missing the second half of last season for what he calls an academic mistake.
''When you go off on your own by yourself, or even if you have some guys that you hang with, it's not the guys that you've been with for three or four years,'' Grant said Thursday in his first comments to the media since being suspended in December. ''Just being able to be around those guys that have been like brothers to you is something that was really important to me.''
Grant wouldn't elaborate on what he had done to be suspended, but confirmed he went through the same honor code process that five football players who are being withheld from practices and games are going through. He said he hasn't talked to any of the football players involved. He said he thought the process was fair.
''It's Notre Dame, so, yeah,'' he said.
Grant was leading the Irish in scoring at 19 points a game when he was suspended from school immediately after the Irish blew an eight-point lead against No. 3 Ohio State with less than two minutes to play and lost 64-61 in Madison Square Garden on Dec. 4. The guard wasn't allowed to travel with the team after the game.
Coach Mike Brey said from the time Grant found out he was under investigation to the time he knew he would be suspended at the end of the fall semester was about three weeks.
The Irish dropped to 8-4 with the loss to Ohio State and struggled the rest of the season without Grant, finishing 15-17 to post its first losing season since 1998-99.
''As the weeks, went on and they started struggling, it was definitely tough on me because I wanted to be out there. I wanted to play,'' he said.
Brey said Grant, the son of former NBA player Harvey Grant, can deliver an important message to his teammates.
''With Jerian, you certainly cherish his being back. The one thing Jerian can do is talk to all these guys about how good they have it here. Sometimes when you're here, you don't know how good you have it until it's gone.''
Grant said he considered turning pro briefly but said he felt he has unfinished business at Notre Dame.