After becoming the career scoring leader among men’s college basketball players in Kansas, Grant Greenberg of Saint Mary received a gift that proudly hangs in his parents’ home.
The framed display shows Greenberg and former KU All-American Danny Manning — along with a congratulatory note from Manning, the player whose record Greenberg toppled.
“It’s the coolest thing I ever got,” Greenberg said.
Just as cool is what happened in the record-breaking game. The Spires were playing host to Southwestern College on Jan. 7.
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Greenberg got history out of the way quickly. His layup eight minutes into the game pushed him past Manning’s 2,951 points. The game went into double overtime with Saint Mary pulling out a 104-103 victory and Greenberg netting a career-high 49 points.
Points and victories continue to pile up for the Spires, an NAIA Division II program in Leavenworth. Saint Mary takes a 20-7 record into Thursday’s home game against Friends.
The Spires stand 12-6 and in third place in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Association. Positioning is critical for postseason hopes. The KCAC regular-season and tournament winners advance to the NAIA Division II championships in Point Lookout, Mo. If they’re the same team, the second-place finisher also reaches nationals.
Greenberg, a senior, hasn’t played in the national tournament. The program hasn’t been there since 2013.
“I’m hopeful that’s where we end up,” Greenberg said.
Greenberg is a 6-foot-2 shooting guard who described himself as a scorer, “but I’ve never been a ball hog. We’re a pass-and-cut team and that suits me well.”
Greenberg is as likely to score near the basket as away. He averages 28.3 points, makes 51.6 percent of all his shots and 34 percent from beyond the three-point arc. And he gets fouled. A lot.
His 235 free throws are the most in NAIA and NCAA Divisions I and II, and Greenberg hits 85.5 percent from the stripe.
“He’s a hard player to guard,” Saint Mary coach Troy Brown said. “He understands angles so well. He’s always moving without the ball. The offense goes through him. We need him to score for us.”
Does all this make Greenberg overqualified for his level?
He didn’t start at Saint Mary. The former Leavenworth High standout attended Northwest Missouri State as a freshman and redshirted. But he didn’t see much opportunity.
“I wouldn’t have changed my decision for going to Northwest,” Greenberg said. “It’s one of the best programs in (NCAA) Division II, and it was good to see how hard they worked every day. But I didn’t see myself playing meaningful minutes.”
Greenberg left after one year and Saint Mary offered hometown familiarity. His older brother, Jeb, starred for the Spires and Grant regularly attended his games. He knew the court, the gym and the coaches, and the point guard.
Xavier Young and Greenberg started playing together in the sixth grade and they’ve been together almost every year since. Young set Saint Mary’s career assist record before Greenberg surpassed Manning.
There are more numbers to rack up. Starting Thursday, four games remain in the regular season, and one more is guaranteed in the KCAC tournament. Greenberg has amassed 3,178 career points. He’s 225 points from becoming the career NAIA Division II scoring leader, a mark likely would require some postseason success.
(The career college scoring leader in the state of Kansas is Lynette Woodard, whose 3,649 points at KU remain tops in the women’s game.)
It’s been good news for a program that suffered tragedy earlier this year when Marcus Mondaine, who had finished his career last spring but remained on campus to complete his degree, was fatally shot. He was friends with Greenberg.
“One of the best teammates I ever had,” Greenberg said. “That was a tough time.”
Greenberg said he isn’t vocal but his leadership helped the Spires unite at a difficult time. And now as he builds on his leadership atop the Kansas men’s college scoring list, Greenberg hopes he can similarly extend his team’s season.