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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • USM's Grant Greenberg eyes conference title

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  • There was a rhythmic, familiar sound Thursday morning inside Ryan Sports Center at the University of Saint Mary.
    Incoming sophomore guard Grant Greenberg patrolled the basket, catching passes from his brother, Jeb Greenberg, and silently releasing shots.
    Words were few as the sound of another swish cut through the silence.
    Watching the Spires star work through his daily afternoon shootaround, one would never know the type of historic season Grant had in his first with USM.
    The accolades were many.
    Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference freshman of the year.
    All-KCAC first-team. Honorable mention All-American.
    He broke the Spires single-season scoring record, averaging almost 26 points per game and shooting 51 percent from the field to finish with 750 overall points.
    "I like to set my goals high, so I was striving to be the best," he said. "I  wasn't thinking about what I'm going to average or whatever. ... During the season, I was having so much fun, none of the points per game or the awards came to my mind. It was just playing basketball."
    After a stellar career at Leavenworth High School, Grant accepted an offer to play at Northwest with confidence he'd see significant playing time as a freshman.
    But, when the Bearcats handed him the redshirt and he didn't see the floor, he said he knew he wasn't where he belonged.
    "It just didn't work out," Grant said. "It was the first time I wasn't happy playing basketball. ... I had the opportunity to come here, and it was probably the best decision I've made."
    Jeb, two years older than Grant, said he was ecstatic having his training partner back home wearing the blue and gold. As a former Spire, Jeb had already made his mark at USM, finishing second all-time in scoring and first in rebounding and earning an All-American honorable mention his junior season
    He knew Grant would do well in the KCAC,  but he said he didn't realize the extent until he watched his brother reel off a 48-point performance and three 30-point games in a five-game span during the beginning of the season. It was then, he said, that he saw what Grant's future could be.
    Jeb has been splitting time between assistant coaching at Pleasant Ridge High School and training with Grant.
    But, he said his role with his brother hasn't been much more than catching shots under the basket and sending the ball back to Grant.
    "I've been watching him play his whole life," Jeb said. "When I see him doing something wrong, I'll tell him, but he's at the point now where he knows what he's doing wrong and I'm just here making it easier for him. ... He works so hard on his own so sometimes I'm here just rebounding, just watching the ball come through the net."
    Page 2 of 2 - Grant can usually be found at Ryan. This summer, he's operated on a routine of running the track in the mornings, shooting with his brother during the day, and lifting weights at night.
    While he already had the best offensive season in USM history as a freshman, he said he has more on his agenda.
    Conference championship banners hang on the walls behind Grant as he sank three-pointers Thursday. He said team success is what drives him to continue pushing every day.
    USM finished fourth last season in the conference.
    Grant said he never wants to know that feeling again.
    "I want to be a better player overall," he said. "I want to lead this team to a conference championship, and then go to the national championship. I'm not really looking to individual goals, I kind of want to take that next step and become more of a leader."
    Grant said his main focus moving forward is to become a better shooter from the three-point line and improve his conditioning.
    During his freshman year, he said he hit a wall that caused him to dial his game back in the waning weeks of the season.
    "I kind of wore down at the end of the season," Grant said. "I was just tired, I wasn't really used to it. I've hit the weight room hard this summer just so I can have my strength back so I can go a whole season this year."
    That work ethic, Jeb said, makes the sky the limit for Grant.
    As his brother shot free throws behind him, Jeb predicted Grant would break the career scoring record at USM in his junior season, solidifying his place at the top of the school's record books for years to come.
    But, Jeb said that's not what drives Grant as they work together every afternoon in the gym.
    "If he continues on the path he's at and he keeps working hard, he definitely should go down as the greatest player to come through here," Greenberg said. "He wants to win, though. He wants to put up more banners, he wants to make noise at the national tournament."

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