KU’s Brannen Greene good as gold when he shoots

KU-Greene

MARCH 2015 – He’s a 6-7, 215-pound rangy sophomore guard at Kansas. He wears No. 14. And he’s from Juliette, Georgia.

His name is Brannen Greene, and he’s one of the best shooters in the country who will need to come up huge in KU’s quest to make a deep run in March and make the Final Four.

He’ll be the fearless sharpshooter coming off the bench in the NCAA Tournament, where his game will be under the microscope of media, fans, coaches and NBA scouts. And here’s what they’re likely to see over and over again when Greene launches his picture-perfect jumper from beyond the arc:

Swish. Swish.

Entering March, Greene led the Big 12 in three-point field goal percentage in conference games at 50.0. While he had two games against Baylor and K-State where his percentage dipped, Greene exploded during a scorching seven-game stretch from Jan. 19-Feb. 10, when he made 17-of-24 three-point attempts for 70.8 percent.

Coach Bill Self has boldly proclaimed Greene “as good of a shooter” he’s ever had at Kansas.

“The guy can really shoot the ball,” Self said. “Maybe from a percentage standpoint, you could say (Brandon) Rush, maybe Tyrel (Reed). I think Brady (Morningstar) led the league in three-point shooting one year. But to me, Brannen makes real shots. He jumps up and just shoots the ball and shoots it with confidence. I think he doesn’t take as many shots, but I think he’s probably as good of a shooter as we’ve had since we’ve been here.”

surplusexchange.orgGreene knows the secret to his success.

“I just take open shots,” Greene said. “That’s my job.”

What makes Greene so unique in the college game is he needs little space to shoot his jumper. His elevation and release point are so high. it’s almost unstoppable to block.

“That’s just something I’ve developed,” he said. “I worked with my dad (Jeff, former standout at Pittsburg State) when I was younger, just repetition, repetition and getting elevation on my shot where they can’t block it, shooting it where they can’t block it. It just dates back to my earlier days. I really don’t need separation when I shoot it.”

Greene, who is averaging 7.4 points and 3.1 rebounds in conference games, showed signs even before Big 12 play that he could be this good. He scored a career-high 19 points and made all five of his threes against Georgetown on Dec. 10. That performance tied five former Jayhawks for second-most three-point attempts without a miss in a game.

“It’s like a layup when that guy shoots it (three-pointer),” ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy said. “He has a pro shooting stroke.”

“It will be interesting to see him at the next level,” ESPN’s Mark Jackson added.

Said ESPN’s Dave Flemming, “I love watching him shoot the ball.”

Not only can Greene shoot from deep, but he’s also deadly from the free throw line and the guy Self wants on the floor at the end of games to shoot charities. Greene is a sizzling 90.5 percent from the free throw line, and has made 25 of 27 free shots (92.6 percent) in the final five minutes of games. He actually made his first 17 free throws this season.

“He’s made them, but he’s made them at the most opportune times and crunch time for us,” Self said. “He’s a great shooter and there’s nobody we’d rather have on the line late than him. Of course, he’s been money from the free throw line.”

The secret to Greene’s success at the charity stripe is the same from long distance, where he “just developed a routine and stuck with it.”

“That’s kind of been my thing. I’ve had the same routine since I’ve been young,” Greene said. “Repetition is key. I made like 100 and something in high school. We shoot around in practice and I go like 50-for-50 sometimes.”

While Greene is a tremendous shooter, Self wants him to make more of a commitment to defense to become an all-around player.

“I feel like I’m a lot quicker than last year,” Greene said. “I feel like I play defense a lot better. There’s room to get better, I still got to improve, but I feel like I have made a step in the defensive area.”

Greene has definitely come a long way since high school, where he was a standout for three years for Mary Persons before finishing his senior year at Tift County High School. Greene, a four-star recruit, ranked No. 29 in his class by Rivals.com, scored more than 2,000 points during his prep career and recorded a 4.0 GPA. He was selected the 2013 Gatorade Georgia Boys Basketball Player of the Year, averaging 27 points, nine rebounds and six assists per game his senior year.

Greene was a Texas fan growing up who never liked KU, but had a change of heart and verbally committed to Kansas in December 2011.

“When you’re not in the recruiting process, you don’t have things you have to balance out, the positives and negatives,” he said. “Just looking at it from an athletic school, I grew up liking Nike and I liked Texas. It was a hot state. They were good in football and basketball. They had Kevin Durant and D.J. Augustin, which were guys I looked up to as a young kid.

“As I grew up and got older and got involved in the recruiting process, when I took my visit here, it shocked, it blew me away from a basketball standpoint. The campus is beautiful; it’s a great environment to be a part of.”

He averaged just 2.4 points in 6.6 minutes per game as a freshman, backing up Wayne Selden Jr. and No. 1 overall NBA Draft pick Andrew Wiggins.

“I’m more comfortable and being comfortable just brings on confidence so I’m a lot more confident right now just because I know the system,” he said. “I know what coach expects, I know what the team needs, so I’m just trying to fill my role.

Greene said the Jayhawks all know their roles and have become a cohesive family.

“We respect each other and each other’s games. We want to see each other do good because not only does that help that person, but it helps us as a team, it just helps everybody. It’s good for everybody when people are playing well. I genuinely want Kelly (Oubre Jr.) and Wayne and those guys that play my position to do well. I don’t have a problem with it at all. They feel the same. We all care about each other. It’s different from last season. We hang around more, we joke with each other, we’re more comfortable taking shots at each other, knowing that it’s positive and helps the other players. I definitely feel like we genuinely care about each other and want each other to do well. Everybody is unselfish and we just want to win.”

Greene stressed the Jayhawks are hungry to go far in the NCAA Tournament and avenge their second-round upset loss to Stanford last March in the Big Dance.

“It’s great motivation for us,” Greene said. “We’re Kansas, we’re big on tradition, big on history, (it’s) never a great season when you get knocked out that early. So that’s motivation for us young guys. Now it’s our team. The seniors have passed on, Wiggs, Jo Jo (Joel Embiid, the No. 3 overall pick in last June’s NBA Draft), those guys are gone, so it’s time for new players to step in and do things. We’re excited.”

Self is excited he has Greene to burn opponents with the three-point shot this postseason.

“I love coaching him because he has no conscience,” Self said. “He doesn’t remember any misses at all so that’s an unbelievable trait as a shooter. There’s been a lot of games where we’d put him in and he kind of bailed us out when we didn’t have any momentum. … I like it when the ball leaves his hand.”

Freshman forward Cliff Alexander, who simply calls Greene the best shooter he’s ever seen.

“It’s ridiculous how well he shoots the ball,” Alexander said. “I’ve never seen a guy shoot the ball so well.”

Article by David Garfield

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