LaMarr Greer

Middle Township's coach LaMarr Greer , middle, talks with his players during a timeout against St. Augustine at St. Augustine Prep High School on Jan. 16.

Basketball took LaMarr Greer around the world.

The sport also led him back home.

The 1994 Middle Township High School graduate retired last year after a 13-year career playing professional basketball overseas. He now volunteers as a Middle Township boys basketball assistant.

"To me, this is where it all exploded," Greer said. "I tell my wife (Corann), 'It's a sin for me to learn all these things (by playing all over the world) and not share them with these kids.' "

Even though he played for Middle Township 20 years ago, Greer's name and game still resonate with fans. He will be inducted today into the South Jersey Basketball Hall of Fame at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill.

"I always thought I would be forgotten," he said, "but I'm not. Somehow the stories keep getting passed from generation to generation."

Greer, 37, led the Panthers to the 1993 and 1994 state Group II titles. The Panthers reached the 1993 Tournament of Champions final, where they lost to St. Anthony of Jersey City. Middle is the only local boys team to reach a TOC final.

He averaged 31 points, 12 rebounds and six assists as a senior. He scored 2,637 career points - the most of any CAL player. Greer played in the 1994 McDonald's High School All American game along side future NBA players Antoine Walker, Danny Fortson and Raef LaFrentz.

But statistics tell only part of his appeal.

Fans recall the way the 6-foot-5 Greer overpowered opponents. They remember his long range alley-oop passes to teammate Stephano Anderson for acrobatic dunks.

In the 1994 state semifinal against Princeton, an opposing player began to move his hands to form a "T" to call a timeout. Before he could, Greer ripped the ball away and drove the length of the court for a two-handed dunk to propel Middle to a 64-49 victory. Greer scored 16 straight points in that game.

"What set LaMarr apart was his vision," said current Middle Township coach Tom Feraco, who coached Greer. "He saw things on the court in advance before they happened. He made every one around him better."

Middle players today still watch a highlight tape of Greer's seasons to get psyched for games.

"I think that (tape) is what's keeping our names in the ears of these kids," Greer said.

Greer spent his first two years of high school at Overbrook in Camden County. He transferred to Middle Township for his junior season. His family has a connection to Cape May Court House. His grandmother, Estelle, lived there and his mother, Althea, graduated from Middle Township.

After graduating from Middle, Greer played at Division I Florida State in the Atlantic Coast Conference. He began to play professionally in Europe in 2000.

Greer played in Italy, Greece, Russia, Ukraine, Israel and Germany. Life overseas can be a bit of an adventure for an American player.

"You had to be so mentally tough to play over there," he said.

Visiting players in Italy have to sprint out of the gym after beating the home team.

"The fans throw coins at you," Greer said. "I had one of my teammates get cut."

In Greece, players had to deal with something else flying at them during pregame warmups.

"The layup line was in the middle of the court because the fans were spitting," Greer said.

Greek fans also shot flares across the court while the game was going on.

"It was an amazing experience," Greer said.

Greer's family traveled all over the world with him. Greer met Corann in high school. The couple has four children - LaMarr Jr., 19; Trai, 16; Corey, 14; and Sydney, 9. The family saw some of the world's biggest sights, including the coliseum in Rome; the Berlin Wall in Germany; the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Kremlin in Moscow.

"It was priceless," Greer said. "Me and my wife preach being open to new things and not judging people."

But as his children got older they wanted to stay in Cape May Court House.

Greer played last year in Finland, while his family remained in America.

"I went crazy," he said.

Greer decided to retire to be with his family. LaMarr Jr. played for the Panthers last season and graduated. Trai is a Middle junior and starts for the Panthers. Corey is a promising eighth grader.

Even Sydney is a gym rat.

"My wife finally thought she had her girl and her companion," Greer said with a laugh. "And now Sydney loves to play basketball."

Greer helps the this year's Panthers by example - running through drills and scrimmaging against the current players.

"It's his demeanor that sets him apart," Feraco said. "He's not a screamer and a yeller. He has an even keel way of teaching kids and getting them to work hard. He has a beautiful trait inside of him to give back to a community he is loyal to."

As for the future, Greer says he wants to coach. But also he wants to work with players from all over Cape May County.

"These kids are perfect for me," he said. "I can get them while they're young and mold them and get them ready for college or wherever they want to go play."

But before the future, Greer will look back to the past one more time at the Hall of Fame induction.

"I think it's an honor for me and it's an honor for our community," he said. "It's not just me. Without that support, I wouldn't have been as good as I was."

And that's why after traveling the globe Greer, came back to Middle Township.

Contact Michael McGarry:

609-272-7185

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