Going into their second round game against the Westlake Lions, the Tift County Blue Devils are not only ranked No. 1 in the state, but have the best player in the state to go along with it. Brannen Greene has been named Mr. Georgia Basketball by the Atlanta Tipoff Club and will be honored at the Naismith Awards Banquet on Tuesday, March 19 at the Georgia International Convention Center in Atlanta.
Greene’s coach, Dr. Eric Holland was pleased, but not entirely surprised.
“I felt like coming in this season, Brannen was the best player in Georgia,” he said. “It’s nice to have it confirmed.”
Greene is averaging over 25 points per game, with a high of 37 at Westover on Jan. 15. He has scored over 2,000 points in his prep career, his first three seasons spent at Mary Persons High in Forsyth before he transferred to Tift for his senior year. Recruited by several colleges, he signed with the Kansas University Jayhawks shortly before the season started.
Holland believes it goes back to Greene’s work ethic, established when he was a child.
“Brannen has been working at this thing for a long time,” he said. Holland also credits his star’s father, Jeffrey. “It goes back to the two of them working since he was eight.”
Eric Oberman of the Atlanta Tipoff Club said that the coaches on the committee met last weekend to discuss honors, Mr. Georgia Basketball and the Metro Atlanta Player of the Year. They suggested a list of 32 players and debated the merits of each. On his Twitter feed, former Milton coach David Boyd said, “Brannen Greene's choice as Georgia Player of the Year may have been [as] lopsided as ever in Georgia high school basketball.” Oberman said the voting results will not be made public.
Amazingly, in an award dominated by metro Atlanta schools, Greene is the second Blue Devil to take the prize. Pablo Machado was named Mr. Georgia Basketball in 1996, a year that Tift County won the state championship in Class AAAA and were ranked No. 6 nationally by USA Today. Since the award was established in 1983, nine schools have had multiple winners, three of them being repeat honorees (Shareef Abdur-Rahim for Wheeler in 1994-95, James Forrest for Southside in 1989-90 and Darrin Hancock for Griffin in 1986 and 1988). Only one school, Southwest of Macon, has had more than two winners.
Greene becomes the first non-metro Atlanta player to be named since 2001 when Glynn Academy’s Kwame Brown received the award.