WESTMINSTER — After being beaten down and pushed around for three years by bigger players and better teams, La Quinta guard Greg Greenfield was beginning to wonder if his senior year would ever come.
Rancho Alamitos Coach Eric Hamamoto said he and some other Garden Grove League coaches were wondering the same thing.
"We're going to make sure he's at the graduation this year," Hamamoto joked. "We'll hand him his diploma if that's what it takes. He's tough. We've seen enough of him."
By the middle of Greenfield's freshman year, Garden Grove League coaches had seen enough of his smooth left-handed release to know he could shoot a little bit.
"He's such an outstanding shooter," La Quinta Coach Jim Perry said. "As teams started realizing his ability, he was forced to become a scorer instead of simply a shooter."
Said Hamamoto: "I don't think there's a spot on the court he can't shoot the ball from."
Greenfield, who averaged 15 points and shot 50% from the field last year, said he developed his shooter's reputation even before he entered high school.
"My NJB (National Junior Basketball) coach told me in seventh grade that I had the best shot he had ever seen," Greenfield said. "Then teams started to double-team me as a freshman. I knew over the years, it was just going to get worse. So I figured I had to get stronger and more physical if I was going to survive."
And Greenfield acknowledges he might not have survived without the help of La Quinta assistant coach Kevin Loftus.
"My first two years were tough," he said. "Coach Loftus beat me down mentally, but he did it just to make me better. I thank him for that. Without him, I wouldn't be the player I am today."
And without his father, he might not be a player at all. Jim Greenfield, the men's basketball coach at Golden West College the last 16 years, was Greg's first basketball coach.
"He gave me something to build on," Greenfield said of his father. "He forced me to learn fundamentals at an early age."
Jim Greenfield will finally get to see those fundamentals at work this season. After seeing only two La Quinta games last year, Jim has taken the year off at Golden West to watch his son play.
"It'll be great," Greg said. "Every night after a game, I'll be able to ask him what I did wrong. But the thing is, I'll only get it if I ask for it. If I didn't ask, he wouldn't say a thing."
If Garden Grove League coaches are right, La Quinta's games should be exciting. With four starters returning from last year's 15-10 team, La Quinta is being picked to win the Garden Grove League, which has been dominated by Kennedy and Pacifica the last three seasons.
Greenfield isn't making any predictions, but he's happy with his team and himself.
"I actually thought my junior year would be our best team, but this year it seems like things might finally work out for us," said Greenfield, who at 6 feet, 180 pounds is 20 pounds heavier than he was as a freshman. "I'm glad I'll get a solid year in before I graduate."