By ZACH SMITH, Photos by ZACH SMITH Four Points News
Greg Brown III could’ve gone to just about any prep school in the country, but he chose to stay at Vandegrift because of the connection he felt with his teammates.
The senior received one of the most prestigious high school basketball honors on Friday morning when he officially received his jersey for the McDonald’s All-American Game. As soon as he donned the jersey for the first time, he asked all his teammates to join him.
“I would not be here without them,” Brown said.
Brown will compete in the All-American Game on April 1 at the Toyota Center in Houston. He’ll also participate in the Jam Fest on March 30 at Delmar Fieldhouse.
More than 900 high school athletes get nominated for the game, and only 24 made the team.
Brown was at Pluckers having dinner with his family when he first saw the McDonald’s All-American Game on TV and said to himself that one day he wanted to play in it.
“It’s a blessing,” Brown said. “I’m trying to soak all of it in and have fun with it. If you would’ve told me I’d be a McDonald’s All-American when I was 10, I would’ve said you’re crazy. It’s truly an honor.”
Brown currently has 2,953 career points, good for 21st in all-time scoring in Texas state history, according to texashsbasketballrecords.com. There’s an extremely good chance he’ll break into the top 20 after the Vipers’ first playoff game.
He’s got more than 1,400 rebounds and averages a double-double, scoring 25 points and grabbing 13 rebounds with 3.5 blocks per game. He’s started 118 games over four years with the Vipers.
The personal accolades speak for themselves as well. Brown is a two-time All-Region, All-State and District MVP selection, a finalist for the Gatorade Texas Player of the Year and a tournament MVP on three separate occasions.
“He’s such a special player,” Vandegrift head coach Cliff Ellis said. “A kid like that doesn’t come around very often, especially in a public high school. To have him stay for four years and be the kind of kid that he is, it’s been an absolutely fantastic experience.”
Brown is the fourth Austin-area player to be selected for the McDonald’s All-American Game, joining Kris Clack, Brad Buckman and Jerrett Allen.
The three other McDonald’s All-Americans from the area ended up playing at Texas. The Longhorns are one of the five final schools that Brown is considering along with Auburn, Michigan, Kentucky and Memphis.
“We’re trying to find the right place for me and find the best fit,” Brown said. “We just finished our last visit to Michigan. They were all good visits. Now, we’re just talking about it and see what place is right for me.”
Last season, Brown missed 15 games with an injured hand. Ellis said he turned into the team’s biggest cheerleader in addition to another assistant coach on the bench.
“I saw him play when he was an eighth-grader, and he was all legs and elbows,” Ellis said. “He was skinny, but you could tell then that he had a different bounce to him. He sauntered. We knew immediately that he was going to be the guy, and he hasn’t disappointed.”
Vandegrift won the District 13-6A title with a perfect 16-0 district mark and finished the regular season on a 27-game winning streak. The No. 13 Vipers begin the playoffs at home on Tuesday night.
The Vipers are used to playing in hostile gyms packed to the rafters and having a target on their backs.
“It’s been one heckuva season, and I’m kind of sad it’s gone by fast, but it’s not done yet,” Brown said.