Friday, January 24, 2014


Column: Brannen Greene not sulking about not starring

Kansas guard Brannen Greene celebrates during a Jayhawk run against Florida during the second half on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013 at O'Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.

Kansas guard Brannen Greene celebrates during a Jayhawk run against Florida during the second half on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013 at O'Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.


Not long ago, Joel Embiid was the one watching Brannen Greene and the rest of his talented AAU teammates get all the playing time while he sat on the bench. They have traded roles.

But it’s not as if Greene is shocked to see the strides made by Embiid, college basketball’s center of attention.

“We all knew he was going to be really good,” Greene said. “It was just that, at that point, he wasn’t very good.”

Embiid’s muscle and experience expanded, and look at him now.

“I mean, he’s always had the moves, but he used to not be able to finish,” Greene said. “He wasn’t strong enough. He’s definitely improved. He’s a great player.”

Embiid’s story — grew up competing on volleyball courts and soccer pitches of Cameroon, took up basketball three years ago — is so compelling he’s the most talked-about college basketball player of the moment. All the attention is new for him.

“I think he’s handling it great,” Greene said of Embiid. “He’s a fun kid. He just likes to have fun. He’s enjoying being here at Kansas.”

Watching others play while he sits is as new to Greene as fame is to Embiid. Does he feel as if he is KU’s overlooked freshman?

“No, not all,” Greene said. “Look at our players. We’ve got Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Wayne Selden. I’m not overlooked. I’m here. I’m doing my thing. I’m fine.”

An agile 6-foot-7, 215-pound small forward with a beautiful jumper and nice spring to his body, Greene endured a recent six-game stretch in which he totaled 17 minutes and missed his only two field-goal attempts. But in the past two games, the serious talent has scored eight points in 11 minutes, making three of four field goals and two of four three-pointers. He cited his need for defensive improvement for the bench time. The positive side of coming off the bench is that it means he gets to sharpen his game going against big-time talent daily in practice.

“I’d probably say I guard Wiggins the most,” Greene said. “It’s usually between Wiggins or Wayne. It’s definitely helped me improve defensively and offensively because (Wiggins) also guards me, and he’s such a great athlete. You learn to score over long arms and an athlete like that. It makes you better when you’ve got a different defender in front of your face.”

Former Pittsburg State basketball player Jeff Greene, Brannen’s father, used to be that defender, but when the son at age 16 finally beat the father in a game of one-on-one, it was time for Brannen to find tougher competition.


Joe Baker 7 years, 10 months ago

“No, not all,” Greene said. “Look at our players. We’ve got Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Wayne Selden. I’m not overlooked. I’m here. I’m doing my thing. I’m fine.”

This should put all the rumors and speculation about a possible transfer to rest for the most part. All the Greene "haters" can put their hopes to rest. He's here to stay and will be great. He's a smart kid and knows a good opportunity when he sees it. Also, he knew KU had or could get these players. He's had plenty of time before he came to campus and now that he's on campus to transfer.

Stay patient Brannen, your day is coming. You'll be one of the best KU players yet.

Luca Rossi 7 years, 10 months ago

What rumors or possible transfer? Haven't heard that at all. Can everyone just "simma down naw" with all the transfer talk? Geez.

Greene is a great player. He comes in off the bench and hits clutch shots, has deep range, guards decent, and brings great energy. BG has a bright future at KU no doubt about it.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 10 months ago

Greene hasn't been talked about as a transfer possibility since early in the season. If anybody is going to transfer off this team, it'll be Andrew White.

Walter Bridges 7 years, 10 months ago

I am a little bit confused about who are all the "Greene haters". I admit that I do not read every article but I cannot recall anyone saying anything negative much less hateful in referring to Greene.

I also don't recall his name being mentioned in any transfer rumors. I guess you must have gotten a pretty good head start on any future medical marijuana laws being passed.

Bryce Landon 7 years, 10 months ago

I imagine when Greene's defensive prowess improves, he'll move up into a starting role.

Jeremy Wilhelm 7 years, 10 months ago

In place of who exactly? Or do you mean next year?

Walter Bridges 7 years, 10 months ago

I think that he has obviously moved ahead of the other shooting guards or possible wing players. Unfortunately, with Oubry coming in and if Selden stays, I think he will still be coming off the bench next year but getting a lot more minutes.

Brianna Zaleski 7 years, 10 months ago

I am one who believes that Greene is going to be a stud for us. He looks so good out there, and definitely has a swagger to him that u like to see in a player. He's a confident kid who, once he figures it out, is going to be really good. I believe he'll be another one of our many players to make an NBA roster.

Daniel Kennamore 7 years, 10 months ago

Plus a few years with Hudy working on his muscle and he'll be a beast.

Walter Bridges 7 years, 10 months ago

Brianna, sounds like you have a little crush on Mr. Greene. Don't let your husband find out (inside joke) : )

Rich Hetherington 7 years, 10 months ago

I think if Seldon declares, and I suspect he will, that Greene has a legitimate shot of being a starter next season playing the 3. If Embiid stays, it may get a little crowded, as I can't really see him, Alexander or Ellis coming off the bench, but does that mean Ellis will start at the 3? It's hard to say right now, but I do know that Greene's playing time is going to be much greater next season with Wiggins and Seldon gone, and he's going to be awesome!

Robert Brock 7 years, 10 months ago

I think Selden returns; his ball-handling needs a lot of work and the NBA scouts and GMs notice that. That said, I expect Greene will play a lot more as he learns how to defend. There is no doubt that Greene is a terrific shooter.

Gerry Butler 7 years, 10 months ago

well done bet thte bank that seldom is gone, in fact I would be willing to bet just different. if ANYONE STAYS it will be seldom he is projected as a low 1st round draft pick, he is not ready to be 1 and done, and you say if jo jo returns, there is NO WAY jo jo is coming back. why should he? if you have opportunity to be the 1st player taken which I have heard multiple time from different sources, why not take the money and run, why take that chance to come back to school and risk that chance of injury and then the real possibility of NOT having the NBA to go too. not only that but if jo jo has the chance to be nu 1 coach self has said and has said again he is not going to try and discourage the guy from jumping to the NBA for his own selfish reasons

Walter Bridges 7 years, 10 months ago

I think Selden stays one more year. He had a slow start and still hasn't hit his stride. I suppose if he can really go off during of the remaining season he could declare but if he wants to be a lottery pick then I expect him back in a Kansas uniform.

Brianna Zaleski 7 years, 10 months ago

I was listening to a podcast with Jeff Goodman and Gary Parrish and they were talking a lot about Embiid and Wiggins. When talking about the possibility of the two leaving for the draft, Goodman said something that struck me. He was saying that he thought Embiid was leaving for sure. 100%. That's not what got my attn, but more his reason. He said the reason was that JE was from Africa and he can't imagine someone from there not needing "a couple million bucks". He obviously doesn't know that JE's family is fairly well off and that his father values education and his sons college experience. Here is one of the main voices in college bball and he's making big statements that ppl are going to put a lot of stock in, and he doesn't know what he's talking about. It made me realize not to get too worked up either way when listening to the projections of what these young men will do, based on the opinion of the "experts". For the record, Parrish said he wouldn't be surprised, or he didn't believe it was a foregone conclusion that Embiid was going.

Clarence Haynes 7 years, 10 months ago

You're correct, more and more, disposable income in Cameroon and other African countries is on the rise. Thus, as you say,it is not a foregone conclusion that someone like Joel needs the money and will bolt to the NBA. I don't know Joel's circumstances, but education and strengthening that upper body might be overriding factors.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 10 months ago

Joel's dad is a pretty high ranking officer in the military in Cameroon. Money is not a deciding factor.

Jeremy Paul 7 years, 10 months ago

Goodman is probably like many other people out there--they hear that somebody is from Africa, and they think that the person lives in a hut and has flies circling their mouth.

Benz Junque 7 years, 10 months ago

Agreed. When I was in college I had multiple classmates that were from Africa. The families that have money there send their children to school in the US.

Walter Bridges 7 years, 10 months ago

Doesn't sound as if anyone did any sort of background check. Hard to believe that these misconceptions are still prevalent.

Luca Rossi 7 years, 10 months ago

The quote in the Black article from Mbah a Moute makes me lean towards him going pro. Taken from the article:

“Those were moves that guys who had been playing for years were making,” Mbah a Moute told the Wall Street Journal in a story published Thursday. “I think he could play in the NBA right now,” Mbah a Moute added.

Luc was his mentor when choosing a college and supported his KU decision I'm guessing based on our history of developing strong big men. The part about Luc saying Jo could play in the NBA right now I don't think helps the cause for him staying. Just my thought.

Benz Junque 7 years, 10 months ago

I don't think it makes any difference at all. He will talk with his father and the coaching staff and see how he feels. If Mbah a Moute is consulted at all other than a "how are you doing" call I would be surprised.

Jack Wilson 7 years, 10 months ago

How can anyone say money is not a deciding factor? Let's say your mom or dad made a good living, were pretty well off. Does that mean it's wise to turn down a 8 figure guaranteed contract?


The better rationale is if it's concluded that staying will substantially increase his ability to have a long a prosperous NBA career, and that substantially outweighs the risk of injury.

I still can't imagine that it does,

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 10 months ago

Here's the thing with Embiid specifically though, when you come from a relatively well off family like he does and you know you will be a top 3 pick whenever he comes out, money becomes much less of a factor. Embiid also comes from a culture that has a different value system than we do and has different priorities than most Americans so that also plays a role in his decision.

Jack Wilson 7 years, 10 months ago

How do you know he will be a top 3 pick "whenever"? You're looking into a crystal ball.

What happens if his upward trajectory stops, or if he gets an injury, or develops a medical condition, or has a car accident .. whatever?

Aren't many "value systems" that can replace security for you, your family, and the next generation of your family.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 10 months ago

Let's say he does stay next year and his development plateaus, he's still a 7 footer that can block shots and has a low post game. He will be a top 3 pick whenever he comes out. Let's say he stays next year and gets injured. He'll likely be looking into an insurance policy during the offseason if he chooses to stay. If not, Greg Oden is still hanging around because he's a 7 footer so not a huge concern financially. And to your last point, you're still looking at this decision with American value system that places the $ above all other things. In many cultures in Africa and Asia, they place a higher emphasis on education and family than on money.

Benz Junque 7 years, 10 months ago

You aren't getting security for the next generation of your family off an NBA rookie contract. It's his 2nd contract that will set him for life if he is able to produce right away under his rookie contract.

Ryan Michael 7 years, 10 months ago

I can only imagine how difficult it is for guys like Brannen to go from being the all-star go-to guy on their teams, to coming into a program and struggling to get PT. I'm so happy that he's understanding that the timing just isn't right yet...

I really think that next year he becomes a force. His defense is going to improve, and with his length that'll make him really tough. Getting shots off with that pretty stroke is going to be cake as well with his height/length.

Just hang on Brannen! All of Jayhawk nation is excited to see you step into the spotlight next season (if not later in this season).

Benz Junque 7 years, 10 months ago

Most players at major programs were high school starts. There are probably several "Mr. Basketball" award winners in their state who are now bench players as freshmen. Self tells kids from Day One that nothing is guarnteed to them and that they will have to work hard to earn everything. If Greene keeps putting in the work he will be just fine.

Of the Top 100 scorers in college basketball, just FOUR are freshmen; Jabari Parker at Duke and then three random dudes at tiny schools Fordham, VMI and High Point. Greene has lights out shooting ability, he just needs to continue to put in the work. Being a good player in high school doesn't guarantee anything. EVERYONE on the roster was a good player in high school.

Benz Junque 7 years, 10 months ago

"making three of four field goals and two of four three-pointers."

Can someone explain to me how you can hit 3-4 field goals including 2-4 from three?

Erich Hartmann 7 years, 10 months ago

The third FG was the rebound and put-back layup, but it wasnt a 3ptr. Remember he came in and hit a 3 vs. Baylor, then hit that put back 2?

Michael Leiker 7 years, 10 months ago

Looking forward to watching Brannen improve. He seems to go hard all the time. Self seem to have a special touch for handling kids with that "I am the best player on the floor" mentality.

Waylon Cook 7 years, 10 months ago

Greene seems pretty happy doing what he is doing. He knows his time will come. If he doesn't then he can get on down the road. Bill Self doesn't have that.

Jack Wilson 7 years, 10 months ago

Just numbers here. Assume Selden returns. Assume Oubre is a real top 10 guy, that has been told he will plug in for Wiggins next season (as Oubre said that Self told him). Just assumptions.

Self plays four perimeter guys. 5th gets scraps.

Tharpe, Mason, Selden, Oubre.

How does Greene get real minutes?

Either coach Self expands his perimeter rotation, or Selden leaves, or Oubre isn't near what most are expecting.

Of course, CF and White are in the mix barring a transfer.

Whatever our mix, even if Selden leaves, our perimeter will be pretty darn stout.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 10 months ago

Or Self does what he's done this year and expands his rotation to play match ups more than a set rotation as in year's past. We've seen Self regularly play 10 guys this year and rotated the back court guys based on match ups. With most of those guys back next, I don't see a reason why Self wouldn't do the same thing again next season.

Jack Wilson 7 years, 10 months ago

Self has not expanded his rotation. You are not apparently differentiating between "playing" and "being in the rotation." Being in the rotation is not playing 2 minutes, then 6, then not at all. There are only 4 perimeter players in the rotation.

Here's what Self said Tuesday: "We’re only really playing four perimeter guys (Naadir Tharpe, Wayne Selden, Andrew Wiggins, Frank Mason) and filling in with Brannen (Greene) and Conner (Frankamp)."

My point is exactly what you said .. that you would see Self doing the same thing he's done this season.

That is, play four perimeter guys. The fifth gets scraps. Thus, my point .. how does Greene play more than scrap minutes?

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 10 months ago

You and I have different definitions of what a rotation player is and could go back and forth on that issue all day long. Your definition of a rotation is not the absolute definition of a rotation player and neither is mine. They are just different definitions and Greene doesn't fit into your definition. I'm not trying to change your definition as this is one of those areas that is no black and white definition, just a lot of gray.

Benz Junque 7 years, 10 months ago

My assumption is that they are only playing four guys because the drop off defensively from Wiggins to Greene or White is significant and this team isn't good enough defensively to handle that for extended minutes.

I know Oubre is supposed to be a good defender but he likely won't be as good as Wiggins and both Greene and White will be much better than they are now so the drop off from Oubre to Greene or White next year will be MUCH less than from Wiggins to Greene or White this year. Oubre will play less minutes than Wiggins is this year and Greene and/or White will get those extra minutes.

Wiggins has played 38 minutes in four of the last seven. That's a TON for a player on a Bill Self team. Oubre won't play that much.

John Randall 7 years, 10 months ago

If Oubre heard he was to be the automatic plug in for Wiggins, he didn't hear it from Self. No one is automatic on coach Bill's teams, and he doesn't talk pie-in-the-sky to recruits.

Scott Yessen 7 years, 10 months ago

Does anyone know what to expect from Mickelson? Is he capable of being the rim protector we have become accustomed too.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 10 months ago

Mickelson will at best be the 4th post player next year behind Ellis, Traylor, and Alexander. And that's assuming Embiid is gone and if not, Mickelson is at best 5th.

Dirk Medema 7 years, 10 months ago

At best, because Landen has looked nicely solid in his limited minutes. It is crazy how deep we've become front and back court.

Erich Hartmann 7 years, 10 months ago

Lucas? Lucas vs. Mickelson...And Cliff Alexander comes also.

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