Greg Monroe: Coach's Take

Something clicked for Greg Monroe last summer at the Nike Skills Academy in Oregon. From that point on, the 6-foot-10 junior was the best that the Class of 2008 has to offer. The remarkable thing is that Monroe may be even better off the court than he is on it.

Some compare Greg Monroe to Lamar Odom. Others to Dwight Howard. Whatever the case, one thing is fairly certain: The Louisiana big man is the No. 1 player in the junior class.

The 6-foot-10, 230-pound skilled forward out of Helen Cox High in New Orleans can do just about anything. He can score in the post, shoot the ball from the perimeter and also handle the ball in the open court.

But the talent wasn't always this easy to spot.

``I first saw him in the eighth grade when I was an assistant coach at another high school," Helen Cox coach Tyron Mouzon recalled. "The head coach, Kenny Chance, had been coaching for 30-something years and said looked over at me and said, `He is something special.' I didn't think so. He was really goofy-looking. I thought he was just alright."

Even last spring there were times when Monroe looked like just another player on the court. Until he got to the Nike Skills Academy in Oregon and was around the elite players in the country.

``That's when it hit me," Monroe said. "It's not that I didn't have any confidence before that, but I was a little uncertain."

Monroe has been anything but unsure of himself since July. He dominated on the AAU circuit over the final month and has carried it over in high school despite failing to put up gaudy numbers.

``He had nine points in one game against West Jefferson and was triple-teamed," Mouzon said. "We won by 20 and Greg could have cared less about scoring nine points. All he cared about was winning."

Monroe had an opportunity to go to a number of schools when he returned from Houston following Hurricane Katrina. St. Augustine wanted him as did Brother Martin and numerous other schools. However, Monroe remained loyal.

``Those schools have a lot of tradition," Mouzon said. "It still blows my mind that he's still here."

``I enjoy playing with my teammates," Monroe added. "I decided to stay and I made the right decision."

Monroe is able to blend in at Helen Cox. He can be a regular kid instead of just the star basketball player.

``The one word to describe Greg is unassuming," Mouzon said. ``You'd never know he was ranked as the number one player in the country. He's a team guy, an excellent person and an outstanding student. He's a special person."

The rare combination (Monroe earns A's and B's in honor classes) is what makes Monroe such a hot topic among college coaches. The word has been that Monroe is really only considering a pair of schools – Duke and LSU. However, he disputes that notion.

``That's what a lot of people tell me, but I always tell them I'm wide open," Monroe said. "I'm considering a whole lot of schools. I'm paying attention to it, but not really focusing on it until after the season."

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