TCNJ Magazine Spring 2020

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14 The College of New Jersey Magazine recalls today, "but when you're 21 years old and playing in the Final Four, you don't really care." GRANT wore number 10 at Tren- ton State, the same number his Uncle Jim had worn in a Trenton rec league. His uncle instilled in Grant a hard-nosed approach to the game that would become his trade- mark. Four decades later, Uncle Jim's layup drill remains a bitter- sweet memory: Greg would drive to the basket while Jim tried to knock the ball loose with a clenched fist — layup after layup after layup. "It got to the point," Grant says, "where The team had an offense that averaged more than 92 points a game and a coach, Kevin Bannon, so unrelentingly demanding, he made General George Patton look like a momma's boy. It had a junior for- ward, Kevin Ryan '90, who scored 18 points a game. But most of all, it had a take-no-prisoners scoring machine named Greg Grant, a 5' 7'', 140-pound point guard from Trenton, who led the team to a 29–1 record and a No. 1 national ranking. The Lions were headed to Wittenberg University, in Springfield, Ohio, where, for the first time in school history, they would compete for the national championship. But as the team packed its bags for its only plane ride of the season, there was one thing missing — their home white jerseys. As the top-ranked team in the country, it was customary to wear white in the Final Four as the de facto "home" team. But just days before, the home whites had disappeared. And thus began the mystery of the Great Uniform Heist of 1989, a mystery only recently resolved … sort of. "We just never knew what hap- pened to the jerseys," Greg Grant P R A I R I E HIS BASKETBALL TEAM HAD EVERYTHING, starting with the best Division III player in the country. During the magical 1988–89 season, the Trenton State Lions men's team steamrolled the competition, winning its first New Jersey Athletic Conference championship in 22 years en route to the ultimate prize in small-college hoops: the Division III Final Four. T I wouldn't drop the ball no matter how hard he'd hit my hand." In three seasons at Trenton State, Grant rewrote the school's record books, scoring 2,611 points, including a nation-high 32.6 points per game his senior year. He remains the school's all-time leading scorer by nearly 1,000 points. During the Lions' run to the Final Four, Grant began to draw the attention of NBA scouts, an almost unheard-of occurrence on a Division III campus. But shortly after Trenton State blew away SUNY Potsdam to punch its ticket to the Final Four, the campus was abuzz: Someone had pilfered the team's home jerseys. In the two seasons the Lions had worn those uniforms, they'd never lost a game at Packer Hall. Soon enough, all the jerseys found their way back to the team's locker room — all except one, Grant's No. 10. The Lions' dream season ended in the finals, a 94–86 loss to the University of Wisconsin– Whitewater. Grant was named the Final Four's Most Valuable Player and the Division III Player of the Year. Six weeks later, the Phoenix Suns selected Grant in the second Grant holds the college's all-time scoring record.

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