By Mark Schmetzer, Enquirer contributor
Grant Pitman knew the knee injury he suffered just before Christmas in 2015 was severe.
He was not prepared for the surgeon’s reaction.
The 2015 Moeller graduate was diagnosed with a torn meniscus, but this wasn’t just any torn meniscus.
“I tore it pretty close to the root,” he recalled. “The surgeon actually told me before the surgery that I would never play basketball again. He said he’d rather have seen me tear my (anterior cruciate ligament). That was not the news I wanted to hear.
“When I heard the news, I was devastated. That was the worst news to hear.”
Pitman suffered the injury playing for Air Force Academy Prep while getting ready to enter the Colorado Springs, Colorado,-based academy. He received a medical discharge, forcing him to give up his dream of being a special operations medic.
He never gave up thinking about playing basketball. He left Colorado, enrolled at Miami (Ohio) in the fall of 2016 and, after what he described as a “ton of physical therapy,” felt good enough to try out for the RedHawks’ new coaching staff.
“My knee was totally healed up,” he said. “They had a new coaching staff, so I went to the office.”
When the 2017-2018 season opened, the 6-foot-4, 185-pound guard had his own section in the official media supplement as a Miami walk-on.
Going into the Jan. 27 game Mid-American Conference game against Eastern Michigan at Millett Hall, Pitman had logged nine minutes over four games, scoring 10 points – nine on three 3-pointers in three tries, living up to his reputation. He graduated from Moeller with the second-highest career 3-point percentage in program history.
“He’s a really good shooter,” said Ryne Smith, Miami’s director of basketball operations, who came over from Purdue with new coach Jack Owens. “He does a good job of picking his spots. Every now and then, he gets hot in practice.
“He’s just doing a really good job. He just comes and treats each practice like a game.”
Air Force was the first program to offer Pitman a scholarship in high school. He also received offers from a few other Division I schools, but he drew more interest from Division II and Division III programs. Miami didn’t recruit him, he said. He committed to Air Force two weeks before his senior season after visiting the campus.
“I knew I would have to make a five-year commitment,” said Pitman, whose father, Greg, played at Bluffton College. “My grandpa was in the Army. My mom (Donna) wasn’t too big on my going, but it was something I wanted to do for myself.”
Choosing to enroll at Miami felt just as natural.
“My mom’s at every game,” said Pitman, a junior academically with sophomore eligibility. “My mom went here. So did my brother, my sister, my grandma and three cousins.”
Pitman is majoring in kinesiology and pre-med with hopes of becoming a chiropractor. Is there a chance he could eventually earn a scholarship?
“It’s just one of those things,” Smith said. “That’s kind of above my pay grade a little bit. A guy like him just has to stay the course and continue doing what he’s been doing – come to practice and focus on being a team guy.”
That shouldn’t be a problem.
“It’s been amazing since the transfer from Colorado,” said Pitman, who usually doesn’t even need a brace. “It was very rough with the knee injury. I grinded, day-after-day, and when the new coaching staff came along, I was excited to be with them.
“It’s been good. The coaches and the players have been great. It’s a different role coming here, and I’ve accepted that. I’m just here to make the team better.
“I’m lucky to have a second chance to play again.”