As Williamsburg Christian Academy boys basketball coach Chris Brown reflected on Cle'von Greene's ascent to star player stature, the performance of the junior Eagle guard in last year's Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division 3 semifinals came to mind. On a team that featured three seniors that would go on to play college hoops, Greene scored 18 points to lead WCA in a defeat to eventual champion Virginia Academy.
Brown knew then what was in store for Greene, the 2016-17 Virginia Gazette Boys Basketball Player of the Year, who led WCA to a state championship last month before garnering D3 player of the year honors.
"This year, I think that his goal was to be ready to deliver every night," Brown said, "and he did."
Greene put up 25.7 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 3.1 steals in an exceptional 26-8 campaign for WCA that saw the Eagles truly peaking in the state tournament, besting opponents by an average of 30.6 points per game and including a 77-55 win over top-seeded Amelia Academy in the final. Amelia had twice beaten the Eagles in the regular season.
Greene scored 18 in the title tilt despite picking up his third foul in the second quarter and helped the Eagles jump on Amelia early by nailing the first two 3-pointers he took. He tallied 15 points and 10 rebounds in the semifinal win over North Cross, looking entirely in his element under the bright lights of Virginia State's new 5,100 seat arena.
Of course, WCA was no stranger to big stages. The Metro Conference regular season champion Eagles play a tough schedule and there was no bigger win prior to the postseason than in December against Hampton High at the Hampton Coliseum. Greene scored 31 points with 17 rebounds, shooting 9-for-11 from the foul line against the eventual Virginia High School League Group 5A semifinalist Crabbers. WCA fans will reminisce about that victory for a long time.
"Over summer after all the guys graduated, I knew that I would have to be a captain for our team," Greene said. "I knew I had to speak more, score, pass rebound — just do whatever I had to do to help the team win."
"I think he's preparing himself and challenging himself to be dependable and a clutch player in big games," Brown said. "That's the reputation that he's starting to make for himself. He's a primetime player."
Greene has several college offers including the most recent one from James Madison.
This month, he will begin playing with the Boo Williams Elite Youth Basketball League team that features some of the best players in the state.
Greene, 6 feet, 2 inches, will play point guard for the Boo Williams squad, the position his Division I suitors are most interested in him playing. At WCA, Greene was often the beneficiary of passes this season from junior guards Da'Shawn and Ra'Shawn Cook, though Greene was also adept at creating his own shot and others.
"He was also an unselfish teammate that made his teammates better," Brown said. "You just can't say enough about him. He grew as a player. He played some time at the point guard, played on the wing and scored the ball, defended and rebounded. He's definitely the best player in the state to me."
Greene will have the rest of the summer and next high school season to try and back that praise up. All of the other Eagles' starters will be there to join him and make a run at a school first: consecutive boys basketball state titles.
Holtzman can be reached by phone at 757-298-5830.