As the No. 1 player in the country, Greg Monroe is ready for everything that is about to come his way this final go-round on the grassroots circuit, he says.
He says it in few words. The 6-foot-9 forward from Helen Cox High School in Harvey, Louisiana says little but plays loud at times. On Friday, the rangy big man put it all together in an overtime period to squeak past the South Carolina Ravens. He had a difficult shot in the lane, converted a three-point play, grabbed a steal and hit the boards better than he has in a while.
After the game, the well-grounded kid cracked a small smile after the game and simply said: "I'm ready."
A cerebral kid by nature, Monroe seems to say as little as needed but he gets his point across. He says he is ready. Of all of the years where players are coming after the top spot in the class of 2008 rankings, this is a good one to really make a case. Monroe may not come out and say he is ready for that challenge of taking on everyone's best game but he had his moments where he played like he was.
"You can't force anything," Monroe said. "You have to take whatever comes to you, open shots, passes, you can't play by yourself and force anything. Most of the time it turns out bad if you force anything."
Monroe forced a couple of things, including a handful of ill-advised three-point attempts. One went wide right. One didn't even hit rim. That is part of his learning curve. Monroe admitted he is a little rusty playing with a new AAU team, the Louisiana Select.
Playing more of a wing forward may be a short-lived thing. Or it may be part of the overall improvement. Whatever it is, Monroe said it is about getting better. That is his plan this spring.
"Be more aggressive, be more assertive," Monroe said of his spring to-do list on the grassroots circuit. "I'm working on my jumper right now and my ball-handling, my post up moves. You can't stop working."
College coaches haven't stopped working either. Correction, elite level college coaches haven't stopped working either on Monroe, who humbly says he is noticing a small change in his recruitment.
"I'm starting to get a little more focus on it," he said. "After the high school season, I'm noticing it more."
Monroe said his list of attractors include Duke, USC, Kansas, North Carolina and LSU. No one really stands out more than the others, he says, and he anticipates his own interest to jump more as the year progresses.
"Bill Self has come down a couple of times, Coach K has been down, Coach Pitino was at one of the playoff games. USC coach Tim Floyd was at a playoff game, too. LSU, they are close, they've been there a lot, too.
"All of the schools have been pretty consistent," Monroe said. "You have to take your time and make the right decision."
Time is certainly on his side. Monroe said he is looking for a place "where I can show my all out game." Playing time, the coaches, the typical things recruits look for are high on his priority list for a potential home. "Just, the all out feel of the school and the program," he says.
"You gotta find somewhere that you can maximize your abilities," Monroe said. "All of the freshman this year, you could tell that a lot of them stepped up this year."
Odds are, Monroe will be stepping it up for a team in the near future.