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November 15, 2012

Basketball helped shape Greene's life

As Brannen Greene prepared to sign a National Letter-of-Intent with the University of Kansas on Thursday, Jeffrey Greene, Brannen's father, couldn't help but smile with thinking about the path his son has chosen.

"When I watched Brannen sign with Kansas today, I was like,' Wow'," said Jeffrey Greene, who played college basketball at Pittsburg State. "I mean, that would really say it all. That's how I felt this morning when I woke up, it was kind of like this is the day that he inks that contract and it's a dream fulfilled.

"His goal was to play high-major basketball," he added. "My goal or my dream for him is to provide every tool and every avenue I could to help him reach that, so today was that dream for him realized. It was just a really, really nice moment for me."

Greene, the 6-foot-7, 200-pound small forward from Tift County High School in Tifton, Ga., is the highest ranked signee in KU's 2013 recruiting class. Currently, he's the No. 25 ranked player in the class, and the 5th best small forward.

Looking back at his recruitment, Greene had an almost unlimited number of options to consider. He took unofficial visits to Kansas, Duke, Connecticut, Louisville, Florida, Harvard, Georgia Tech, Alabama, Florida State and UCLA. Greene, a four-star prospect, was also scheduled to visit Kentucky and Memphis before committing to Bill Self and the Jayhawks on December 20, 2011.

The love father and son have for the game of basketball has only strengthened their bond.

"I accomplished a lot at Pittsburgh State and my name is still in the record books for points, rebounds and all of that stuff," said Greene. "I learned a lot through the game, and through that Midwestern area, I've been able to pass some things off to Brannen, which has helped him play at an even higher level.

"Now, the test was, if schools like Kansas and Duke and those types of schools would come along," he added. "And they did, from Kentucky to Kansas, he was recruited by those schools. When I think about all of that, yes, it's a special moment for me."

While Thursday was certainly a memorable day for Jeffrey and the entire Greene family, for Brannen, Thursday, at least the first few hours, were treated just like any other day.

However, as the time came for Greene to make his verbal commitment to Kansas official by signing a National Letter-of-Intent, Jeffrey sensed something different about his son.

After a brief exchange between father and son, it didn't take long for the elder Greene to reach a conclusion.

"The morning started off like any typical morning," he said. "We ate breakfast and we discussed the day and what time I would get to the school. Brannen kept asking me if I had the paperwork, and I told him that I had everything. There was nothing unusual about the morning. But once I got over to the school, I could tell.

You know, he looked like a strutting peacock," he added. "He told me at one moment,' 'Dad, I didn't think that I would be nervous. I'm just nervous for some reason and I've got butterflies.' "I told Brannen I think that is excitement. He said he was really, really happy. I think as it got closer, he realized it. I just left him, and we spent the past four hours together, and he's beaming. He's beaming like a peacock. He is so excited and so happy."

For some of the nation's elite high school basketball prospects, signing day signifies the end of a process that can, at times, be overwhelming, time consuming and physically and emotionally draining. Between the contact phone calls, e-mails, text messages, visits, etc, the opportunity to live a normal life doesn't exist.

However, that wasn't the case for Brannen Greene. Before reaching a final decision, the native of Tifton, Ga., along with his father, put a plan in place. After taking a number of unofficial visits, Greene on October 13, 2011, narriwed his list of schools to Kansas, Connecticut, Florida, Florida State, Harvard, Louisville, Memphis, and Ohio State.

After taking everything in, considering all of his options, and evaluating each program, Greene, on December 20, 2011, committed to Kansas.

"Kansas came around early," he said. "They weren't about telling him things that they thought might convince him to pick them as a school. They were real open with him, and honest. He felt that honesty and that openness, and he shared that with me. Kansas wasn't the only school that Brannen felt that way about, but I'll say it was one of three schools that he felt were being truthful.

"Out of that, some other little intrinsic things started to evolve," he added. "He's a small-town kid and Kansas appealed to his sensibility of that, and I think that was more or less the deciding factor. Brannen took two unofficial visits to Kansas, and experiencing that culture, I think that just filled it for him."


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