Greenberg goes from 'stocky' little kid, to collegiate powerhouse scorer

From a self-professed youth as a “chubby kid,” Grant Greenberg is now the big heavy when it comes to collegiate men’s basketball in the state of Kansas.

Saturday, the University of Saint Mary senior, former Leavenworth High School alum and a man who started off here as a boy with big dreams, became the all-time leading scorer in men’s college basketball history for the state of Kansas’ colleges when his layup at the 11:57 mark of first half against Southwestern College catapulted him past KU legend Danny Manning to the top of the list.

To top it off, Greenberg finished the game with a career-high 49 points and big shot after big shot in a 104-103 double overtime, classic win.

He now stands at 2,993 points, so he’s in reach of the 3,000-point milestone. 

He was very pleased to have reached this point, on his biggest day, at home, even if school wasn’t in session yet.

“To do it in front of my family and friends, it’s not to say I didn’t want to do it at Ottawa (played two days earlier), but tonight it’s special especially when you do it in my hometown, in the gym where I put countless hours in,” Greenberg said. “It all worked out. I thought it was cool tonight.”

His former high school coach was there to watch Greenberg, as well as some current Pioneer players.

“It’s an amazing feat for anyone,” Leavenworth High head boys’ basketball coach Larry Hogan said. “Grant is such a hard worker and a team player, which I really appreciate out of it. These points don’t come from one-on-one. They come from a team offense and they execute together as a team. You have to put in the hard work in practice to be able to do it in games. He’s been able to do that.

“It’s a well-deserved honor. He deserved it.”

“If we just work hard like he did when he was at the high school then maybe we can get to a place like that in life,” LVHS senior Jordan Berry said. “I had pride. It’s a very huge honor to have him be a Leavenworth alum and play at the same school he played at.

“It has made us realize we have to work harder to get to where he is at.”

The mark was set against the team that eliminated USM in last year’s Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) playoff in heartbreaking fashion and against a team they are once again in the thick of a league race with.

“It’s a cherry on top that we beat them,” Greenberg said. “I wouldn’t say we are back equal yet, because they beat us at the end of the season last year and I still remember that. But, it feels a little bit better. This helps.”

The fact that he is here comes from the hard work that Greenberg is synonymous with.

“He started coming to my camp around second or third grade … he was this short, little stocky guy who would score on the older kids,” Hogan said. “That probably came from playing with his older brother (Jeb) in the backyard. He wasn’t afraid of anybody. He just mastered all the fundamentals of the game. He’s a slasher, shooter, he can do it all.

“I thought he was really well-rounded like that out of a high school. He has refined his game – being bigger, stronger, more physical at the collegiate level.”

“If more basketball players prepared like he did on individual skills, put the time in, there would be more Grant Greenbergs,” USM head coach Troy Brown said. “He is working on coming off ball screens, his pull up, his mid-range, catching in the post and back to the basket moves. He’s working on his catch and shoot 3s. Everything he does in a game he works on.

“By the time we get to game time, he’s already put a full game in. He’s out on the court for an hour doing it. It’s all work and repetition.”

His work ethic was born out of family and love of his brother.

“It started when I was younger, establishing a work ethic,” Greenberg said. “I followed my older brother and he pushed me. I wouldn’t be who I’d be today without him. When I was little, we always played 1-on-1 and he let me play with his older friends, which showed me I wasn’t good enough yet. When he was done playing, he was still around here. Every day we would come in here and we would do game shots, where he would guard me.

“He told me where I’d get my shots from just by watching me in a game. It was all about game shots. It’s all about working hard. You have to work hard because there could be another player another state away working harder. You never can work hard enough.”

His ability to attack the rim is also special. He’s not super tall or muscular, although he is a strongly built young man. He goes to the basket with force, not shying away from contact, chin pointed forward, daring the opposition to deny him.

“It’s from when I was younger and playing with older people,” Greenberg said. “Honestly, I was young and a chubby, fat, young kid and I would play with my brother and his friends. They taught me I had to be tough. They are going to knock you down and you have to get back up. I definitely chose it (to be tough).

“I’ve had so many (hard hits) I am so used to it by now, I can’t remember when the first one was. When I was little we had a basketball court in our backyard and it was concrete so it was probably one of those.”

Brown said that Greenberg is one of a dying breed in terms of a guard that will attack the rim violently like he does.

“Nowadays you have so many guys fading away from the contact either because they are scared of the contact or they are scared to go to the line and shoot the free throws,” Brown said. “He’s fearless. Eighty percent of the time he goes to the rim they don’t call fouls. A lot of times they don’t call fouls because they are so used to him getting contact. They are sick and tired of calling it.”

“There is usually contact on every (drive),” Greenberg said. “(Brown) tells me all the time not to worry about what the refs says.”

Greenberg’s basketball career may not end after this season, which he hopes to take the Spires to the NAIA national tournament.

“That’s always been my dream,” Greenberg said. “I am not worrying about it now, but when the season is over I will sit down and see my options.”

It is likely Greenberg could entertain a number of opportunities to play professionally somewhere in the world once his USM days end.

“I am having fun, we have a great group of guys that love each other and play for each other,” Greenberg said. “I am not going to be in college anymore. I am glad it was this group. Without the teammates I’ve had for four years and my coaches, none of this is possible. I thank them and all of my former teammates and coaches. It definitely feels good doing it with this group. They don’t care who shoots the ball. It’s all about winning.

“Without my teammates, coaches, friends, family supporting me and pushing me, I wouldn’t be where I am today. It’s because of them.”

Twitter: @LVTSportsGuy