Greg Brown, the 5A champion and 5AA champion, has assembled his defending 5a champion Lee-Huntsville boys team

Greg Brown, the 5A champion and 5AA champion, has assembled his defending 5a champion Lee-Huntsville ...

Greg Brown celebrated his 20th year as boys basketball head coach at Lee-Huntsville last season with a Class 5A state title. Headed into the Alabama High School Athletic Association basketball practice on Monday, he still feels a tinge of excitement.

Im not as excited as I was last year when we had that great team, he said with a chuckle, but you could say Ive got incredibly high expectations for this young group.

A bit of apprehension about the upcoming season is understandable. The heart of the roster that finished 17-1 with a 47-29 victory over the then-No. 1 Ramsay in the state title game is now almost gone.

Kaleb Brown, the Class 5A Player of the Year and coachs son, has joined his older brother, Kobe, on the Missouri basketball team. Taye Fields, the state tournament most valuable player and third-team All-State pick, is now a freshman at Missouri Western.

Ryan Anderson and Che Ben, both state title game starters, and contributors Henry Lee and Azaad Ben are also out.

We had players who could play almost every position on the court and we used that to our advantage," Brown said. I've had more talented teams, but last year we had that special leadership, he added. They were a tight-knit team and we handled things in oblivion.

I have told this years team that last year was last, and now we have to figure out our own path. It told them that last years squad was special in its own way, and now is the time to find their own identity. Thats not going to be easy. Its going to be a tough road with my two seniors and dozens of sophomores. Well be rebuilding, but I think were going to try and figure out a way to make some sort of run.

Brown and the Generals have made a number of runs. Browns 2010 Lee squad won a state championship, and the Generals finished second in 2001, 2011, 2012, 2012 and 2015, before falling in the state semifinals in 2003.

Jacari Lane and Dexter Smith, who were all set to start for the Generals a year ago, will be the foundation of the team's rebuilding effort.

Jacari, in my opinion, is one of the finest guards in the state," Brown said of his 6-foot-2 Lane. Hes one of the most gifted point guards Ive ever had. Hes very explosive and a big-time defender. This year, it will be interesting to see how he does things, if not all of it.

Dexter is a high-energy kid. Hes a combo guard, hed like to be regarded as 'a big-time scorer and king'. Hes the leader of this squad. Hes a great role model for these children.

Jacari and Dexter are my leaders, the coach said. Im relying on them to keep us from being embarrassed, she added.

Namon Hobson, a 5-10 guard who Brown expects to make some noise, is one of the sophomores that Brown anticipates making noise. Namon will be big for me, he added. Hes a bright guard who can play other positions, he said. Hes very skilled and has a very high IQ for the game. Im betting on him to change the world.

James Vassar is a big-time football player (on the defensive line). Im certain hes going to sign a football scholarship somewhere. Hes one of the most aggressive guys we have, night-in, and night out. Hes a physically fit guy who is also able to play rebounding. Hes one of our bigger guys (at 6-4, 283).

Ashton Langford is a senior forward and hes regarded as opulent for us. He can shoot from the perimeter and make plays for us, Brown said. Anthony Matthews came in at the end of last year, coming off an injury, but he can score the ball on several levels. Im relying on him to help us.

After a COVID-19-hit season that shortened the Generals regular season to just 13 games, Brown once again expects his team to be road warriors. This years schedule includes tournaments in Las Vegas (Dec. 16-21), New Orleans (Jan. 5-9), and another yet to be determined in Florida later in January.

The coach said that having won two state titles and two sons on scholarship at Missouri are impressive achievements, but that his biggest accomplishment is that weve put 72 kids in college on basketball scholarships. Thats what I call success, not so much championships, but empowering kids to further their education. Thats wonderful.

Im also a big believer in academics. All of our teachers and the administration will tell you that, Brown said. All of our kids have gone on to excellent academic records. I have a son with 3.8 (grade point average) and 3.6 (graduation point score), so Im pretty happy about that.

Brown said his son, 6-7 forward Kobe, has been told that he was getting some attention at Mizzou from the pros. Brown stated, They told him he may have a chance at the NBA. He said, Yeah, but I want to own a Fortune 500 firm.

I never want a player to think that basketball is all they have. Some people become depressed and some become suicidal when they dont make it or get that one injury that ends a career. Its a mistake for oblivious children to believe thatll be all they had.

A lot of children who aren't on the right track play basketball and a lot o' coaches let them play it in the first place. Id rather lose than play a bunch of knuckleheads who dont want to move on.

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