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Did Brannen Greene make the right decision in leaving Kansas?

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Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) pumps up the crowd during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) pumps up the crowd during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

With the NBA combine kicking off today, we already know that former Kansas University sharp-shooter Brannen Greene did not receive an invitation to the event, which runs today through Sunday in Chicago, and, therefore, will have to go about earning a spot in the NBA through team workouts and the old school grind.

The news came as no real surprise, and leaves Greene, who hired an agent and is not eligible to return to school, on the outside looking in when it comes to hoping for an NBA future.

Those facts got me thinking: Did Greene make the right decision in leaving Kansas?

Let’s take a look.

Invites to the combine were sent out to a little more than 70 players regardless of age. We learned Tuesday that an injury will keep Wayne Selden out of the combine, leaving former Jayhawks Perry Ellis and Cheick Diallo as the only KU players competing. And some fantastically talented college players — namely Wichita State’s Fred Van Vleet and Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell — were not invited. Like Greene, those players will be hoping to catch the eye of the right team at the right time through pre-draft workouts.

What’s more, the NBA announced recently that 162 early-entry players had declared for this year’s Draft — June 23 in New York — with 117 of them being from the college ranks and 45 being international players.

That’s 162 players, not counting college seniors. And there are only 60 selections in the NBA Draft.

Needless to say, that makes the chances of landing a spot on an NBA roster a long shot for roughly 75 percent of those players hoping they’ll hear their names called in this year’s draft.

OK. So now that we’ve established all of that, let’s get back to Greene. Did he make the right choice in leaving?

The numbers above might suggest no, but the correct answer is yes. Why? Because it was simply time for him to leave.

Greene had three years to earn a regular spot in the rotation and, outside of a stretch here or a stretch there, did not do it. What’s more, he seemed to be in constant conflict with KU coach Bill Self — that’s rarely the way to go about getting more playing time — and, with the arrival of freshman phenom Josh Jackson, likely would have been, at best, the fifth man in KU’s perimeter rotation next season, behind Frank Mason, Devonte’ Graham, Jackson and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk.

Would there have been minutes for Greene next year? Probably. But would they have been consistent? Probably not. And would he have made the most of them? To that, too, you’d have to say probably not.

During his three-year career at Kansas, Greene recorded more suspensions than starts. In all, he played in 93 games and averaged a little more than 11 minutes per contest. That’s barely a quarter per game and anyone who watched those three seasons closely knows that he played single-digit minutes in roughly half of those 93 appearances. To think any of that was going to change next year is a reach.

I’m betting Greene knew that. Give him credit for that. A naïve player would’ve returned with the false hope and misguided belief that said, “Hey, it’s my senior year and it’s time to really make it count.” With Wayne Selden departing and the Josh Jackson commitment coming after he made his decision to bolt, Greene easily could’ve thought that way. But he’s too smart for that and clearly knew better.

He also could’ve believed that, because he would’ve been a senior, Self would’ve leaned on him for experience and that fact alone would have increased his minutes. But it’s not so much experience that gets you on the floor for Self as it is trust. And there’s no two ways about it; Self never trusted Greene.

That is merely one more factor that made leaving Kansas, regardless of what his pro basketball future becomes, the right move for Greene. He’s going to make it — or not — based on his ability to shoot the basketball at a world-class level. And nothing he would have done during one more season at Kansas was going to change that.

As stated above, Greene is one heck of a shooter and the NBA has proven that it has a place for players with that kind of specialized skill.

Nobody’s going to sign him for his defense or attitude or leadership. If Greene makes it, it’s going to be because he can square up, flick his right wrist and knock it down with the best of them.

So let’s say Greene gets picked up by an NBA team as a free agent and winds up making a roster after lighting up the summer league circuit. If that happens, he clearly made the right decision, that whole right place, right time thing, you know? From there, he begins an NBA career, that, with his skill set, could last a number of years and deliver big time bucks.

But even if that doesn’t happen and Greene is forced to give up his NBA dream and heads overseas to shoot the rock, he’s still going to be better off than he would’ve been playing 11 minutes off the bench at Kansas. He’ll be getting paid to play basketball and travel the world and he’ll actually be playing.

Greene needed a fresh start and KU needed a break from Greene.

Combine invitation or not, both the program and the player got what they needed from Greene making the decision he made and it should be interesting to see where Greene takes things from here.

Comments

Austin Lopez 3 years, 8 months ago

Just because you don't get invited to the NBA Draft Combine don't mean you won't get drafted, fun fact, 40% of the players invited to last years NBA Draft Combine didn't get drafted..

Benny Armstrong 3 years, 8 months ago

A combine invitation does not guarantee you get drafted as you note, but it does serve as a strong indicator as to how NBA teams see players and whether they believe that they have a shot to be drafted or make a roster. There's obviously always the chance he wows in personal workouts with teams and sneaks into the second round, but with that many eligible players I'm not terribly confident he hears his name on draft night. Also, I'd be interested to see how your stat plays out over the last 5-10 years to get more of an idea about how important it is to be invited to the combine. Was last year the norm or more of an outlier?

In the end, as Tait notes, this was the right time for Brannen to leave. We'll miss his shooting at times, but certainly not the headaches that came with them.

John Boyle 3 years, 8 months ago

Austin, Your first statement doesn't seem to have anything to do with the second statement. A better stat would have been, what percentage of players who didn't get invited to the combine got drafted. Of course you would have to come up with some sort of criteria to be your denominator in the equation but it would be an interesting stat to know.

Bobby Nightengale 3 years, 8 months ago

There were only 5 players drafted last year, who were not invited to the combine.

Michael Maris 3 years, 8 months ago

I'm betting he'll make more money overseas (vs. the NBDL).

William Woody 3 years, 8 months ago

I don't think it matters. Greene is a one-trick pony; he shoots 3's. If he had stayed, he wouldn't have seen anymore floor time than he had been receiving, especially now that Jackson is coming. He would not have improved his game much, if any. He probably won't get drafted, but he can go to the D-league and work on his shot and maybe learn to play some D.

Suzi Marshall 3 years, 8 months ago

There still may be a lot to the Greene story none of us outside the program knows about. Self likes to keep private team decisions private. Regardless of Self's MO, rumors always spread about campus. Some of those rumors were that Greene was told by Self he (Greene) expected a much diminished role on the team if he returned.

Self'a trust for Greene had to have taken a big hit his freshman year when he dribble the ball off his foot in the closing seconds vs FL to kill an improbable comeback. Toss in a couple of other sloppy late game plays by Greene to go along with the several in early game play did not help. Greene was marginally better in all phases this past season but not getting himself ready for the NCAA Tournament must have really PO'ed Self. We desperately needed his outside shot v 'Nova, especially since, as we now know, Selden was injured.

Jonathan Briles 3 years, 8 months ago

I think that if for nothing else Greene should have come back to get his degree. Self is a great coach and Greene could have improved at least slightly and if he had returned he would have been in the exact spot he will be this year, but with a college degree to fall back on. By leaving early he might get his payday a little earlier, but basketball is not forever and he is going to wish he had that diploma at some point.

David A. Smith 3 years, 8 months ago

Staying to get his degree would have been the best thing for BG for sure, but I can't help but wonder how much his attitude affected the morale and focus of the team. His leaving is probably more of a win/lose than a win/win.

Pius Waldman 3 years, 8 months ago

Well not knowing exactly why he left so between the lines this idea. Maybe during the discussion with Coach Self maybe Coach shared he wanted Greene to leave similiar to Tharpe. So then Greene thinking a season of not playing wasn't high on his list so getting an agent would help him getting a pro job either in the US or some foreign country. Self probably was doing him a favor as bench time for a senior with personal problems wouldn't make sense. As some would remember the Crider treatment might make sense.

Cliff Leiker 3 years, 8 months ago

Well I loved Greene. When I watched him play, he tried his best. If he made a mistake, he tried to make up for it and a lot of times he did. Good luck to Brannen. I will follow your professional career.

Greg Lux 3 years, 8 months ago

Of all the players who have come through KU's basketball program. BG is probably the most troubled player we have had in many years. I feel bad for him that he just could find a way to accept his place on the team and work hard to improve it over time. But it seems from the very beginning he fought the HCBS system at every opportunity. BG could have been a real asset on the team but he just could keep himself on the right side (good side ) of HCBS.

Kit Duncan 3 years, 8 months ago

CJ Giles was asked to leave after two seasons and didn't fare any better at Oregon State. Brannen is a saint compared to Giles.

Mike Greer 3 years, 8 months ago

After a rough start to the 2015/16 season, I thought he was getting it together. And then the dunk! Put him on Self's bad side, and for whatever reason, it never seemed like he got his game going after that. He passed on open 3's on many occasions, including the return game at KSU. When he did take a shot he seemed very tentative and didn't hit nearly as many as earlier in the season. Was that skill, attitude, injury, nerves or what, who knows, but if you are as someone stated a one trick pony, you need to be able to perform that trick, and near the end of the season, Brannen couldn't throw the ball into the ocean if he were standing on the beach. I agree, it was time for a change.

Ben Kane 3 years, 8 months ago

BG definitely made the correct decision for him. He can always finish his degree later but as mentioned by many above he had basically reached the peak of what he was going to accomplish at KU and therefore had to try and cash in now. I wish him the best and hope he makes it.

Jeff Coffman 3 years, 8 months ago

I'm on record of thinking that BG's game is suited more for the NBA than for the Self's System of defense. If he can shoot a 3, he will be on a team.

Look at the teams today that loft 3 after 3, what didn't the cavaliers just knock down 80 3s in three games. The 3 will be something targeted, and if there is a workout that he is dropping them, the team will take a second round flier on him. He'll definitely get an invite to a mini camp or two and will have his choice.

I'd be more surprised if he wasn't on a team next year, than he if he was on a team.

Janet Olin 3 years, 8 months ago

Yes, it was the right decision. He was unhappy, and the coach (possibly also team, fans) was unhappy with his consistency and maturity. I wish him well and think he's a terrific talent, but he was a distraction for the team and 'ghosted out' when he was most needed.

Robert Brock 3 years, 8 months ago

There are great opportunities for Brannen in Macedonia. They like hoops, the food stalls are good and there are plenty of pretty girls.

Yonatan Negash 3 years, 8 months ago

Greene was not the first player to leave KU early and won't be the last.

Obviously, there is some unknown reasons that led to BG leaving Kansas early.

It's also important to note, there have been a large number of players that have left the program for unknown reasons.

All I can tell you is BG was committed to play for KU, in fact he was the first player in 2014 to commit to Kansas.

I can't begin to tell you why these things happen but wish fans can accept the players no matter their short comings.

Chuck Holder 3 years, 8 months ago

I believe his attitude and the many suspensions cost him an invite. Yes he was good outside the circle but how many times did he get suspended in three years. Probably set a KU record.

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