Corey Greer is all business.
On the court, there is no playful smiling, because the 6-foot-1 Camden senior point guard is always thinking about the next play.
Greer has a basketball IQ that is off the charts, and only his will to win exceeds it.
As the NJSIAA state tournament begins on Monday, no single player might carry a bigger burden than Greer. His Camden team, ranked No. 4 in South Jersey by The Inquirer, will again seek what has become an elusive 12th state championship in the school’s rich basketball history.
The Panthers last won a state title in 2000, when DaJuan Wagner and Arthur Barclay led the Panthers not only to the state Group 3 championship, but the Tournament of Champions title, as well. Camden has come so tantalizing close since then and has played in five straight state finals.
“It would mean everything to win a state title,” Greer said after Camden earned a 42-40 decision over Cherokee on Tuesday to improve to 18-5.
Greer has a strong basketball lineage. His father, LaMarr, was a star at Middle Township and Florida State and enjoyed a long professional career overseas. LaMarr Greer now assists with the Camden program.
The younger Greer played for Middle Township as a freshman before transferring to Camden. As a sophomore, he started on a team that squandered an 18-point, third-quarter lead in an 85-83 loss to Newark West Side in the state Group 2 title game.
“That hurt,” Greer said.
So did the next season. Greer played just three games as a junior before suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee that required reconstructive surgery.
This year, he is averaging nearly 16 points and more than five assists, but the numbers only partially tell the story about his importance to the team.
“Corey handles the ball 99 percent of the time,” Camden coach John Valore said. “He has my permission to run the show.”
That means Greer can call out the offensive sets the team will run.
“I treat him like Iverson, I let him have freedom,” Valore said.
Unlike Allen Iverson, Greer loves to practice.
“If he misses a free throw in a game, he will go back to the gym afterwards and shoot for an hour and a half,” Valore said.
Camden, with 47 sectional titles, has such great tradition, but the Panthers aren’t without flaws. This team is not consistent shooting foul shots, a must for any aspiring state-championship squad. The outside shooting is also spotty, with Greer the best threat.
“We have plenty of people who can shoot,” he disagreed.
Yet there is nobody like Greer, who can create his shot as well as anybody in South Jersey. What the stat sheet doesn’t show is Greer’s savvy.
“He is cool, calm and collected, and he never rushes things,” Cherokee coach Eric Cassidy said.
There is a rush now since this is it for Greer, who is consumed by only one thing: winning.
“He takes so much of the pressure on himself,” Valore said. “He has to learn how to relax.”
That won’t be learned in the next two weeks or how long Camden lasts in the tournament.
“It’s my job to lead the team,” Greer said quietly.
It’s a big job, too. He has a lot on his shoulders and is intent on handling such a heavy load.