By BRIAN CUNNIFF
Middle Township High School is turning to one of its all-time greats to head its boys basketball program.
LaMarr Greer, who led Middle to back-to-back state titles as a junior and senior and was named the New Jersey Player of the Year and a McDonald’s All-American as a senior in 1994, was approved as the program’s new head coach at the school district’s Board of Education meeting Thursday evening.
Greer takes over for Tom Feraco, who stepped down after a short two-season second stint as head coach.
“I’m extremely proud, especially because it’s here at Middle,” Greer said. “This was the beginning of everything for me. I feel like I represent a lot of people and that’s big for me. I definitely represent Coach Feraco because he gave me my foundation. He is my foundation. And I definitely represent the whole community of Middle Township, so that makes me extremely proud.”
Greer takes over a Middle program that has traditionally been one of the best in the Cape-Atlantic League. The Panthers won multiple division and/or conference titles and annually made deep runs in the state tournament from the late 1980s through the early 2010s. But the program has struggled a bit in recent seasons. Middle has not had a winning season since going 13-12 in 2017-18 and its last 20-win season occurred in 2012-13. Middle last won a South Jersey title in 2011.
The team went 2-4 during last winter’s pandemic-shortened season.
“We have to get it back, and that comes with hard work,” Greer said. “It starts with academics because if the kids buy into that it creates habits where if you work hard in the classroom you’ll work hard on the court. We have kids with ambitions to go to college and we should be helping them with that. It’s a full package.
“I love our situation at Middle. Our teachers, our administrators and the community here – everything is in place for us to be successful. We just have to get to work.”
Middle has a chance to return to its previous glory rather quickly. The Panthers featured three freshmen among their top seven players last season and the program is also welcoming a couple more talented freshmen who could push for varsity minutes this winter. There are a handful of upperclassmen expected back for this winter as well.
“I’m very excited about the future,” Greer said. “We’re young and I know we have to be patient but I don’t want to be too patient. We’re going to be demanding of them. The standard is high here. That’s what we do here. We’ll be doing a lot of teaching and we’re going to be very demanding but I know the kids can learn a lot fast. I know the kids will be up to it.”
Greer began his high school career at Overbrook in Pine Hill before transferring to Middle prior to his junior year. A 6-4 guard, Greer finished his high school career with 2,637 points, averaging 31 points, 12 rebounds and six assists as a senior. He went on to a productive career at Florida State, where he was a four-year starter and career 1,000-point scorer. He averaged 11.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists as a senior, leading the Seminoles to a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Greer posted 17 points to help Florida State to a first-round NCAA Tournament win over Texas Christian before the Seminoles were knocked out in the second round following an 83-77 overtime loss to Valparaiso.
Greer went on to a long career in professional basketball. He played multiple seasons for the Atlantic City Seagulls, helping the team win the league title in 1999. He was also named to the league’s all-defensive team in 2000.
Greer was also once on the roster for the Philadelphia 76ers summer league team. He spent the bulk of his pro career overseas, playing in Italy, Russia, Ukraine, Greece, Israel, Germany and Finland. All told, Greer played more than a decade overseas, averaging in double figures in scoring in seven of those seasons.
Once his playing days were complete, Greer became involved in coaching and personal basketball training in the South Jersey area. He first coached at the high school level as an assistant under Feraco and was also an assistant coach at Camden for a couple of seasons. Greer is currently employed by Middle Township High School. He was again an assistant under Feraco for the past two seasons.
Greer’s No. 44 was retired by Middle Township in February 2020.
“LaMarr Greer is basketball royalty in our community and across the state of New Jersey,” Middle Township school superintendent Dr. David Salvo said in a prepared statement. “He is a former McDonald’s All-American, Division I standout and professional athlete. Our student athletes will certainly benefit from LaMarr’s experience on the basketball court. We are extremely excited for LaMarr to have this opportunity at his alma mater.”
Feraco, who was Greer’s coach at Middle, was the program’s head coach for a total of 37 seasons. He first coached for 35 seasons before stepping down after the 2015-16 season. He had led Middle to nine South Jersey titles, three state titles and 21 20-win seasons. Feraco then returned as coach before the 2019-20 season after Anthony Farmer’s three-year stint as coach. Overall, Feraco’s career record is 733-270.
Greer still considers Feraco a mentor.
“I talk to Coach at 7 o’clock in the morning a few days a week, because that’s our time and it’s the time I know I have his undivided attention,” Greer said with a laugh. “The things he’s taught me about basketball and about life, it’s amazing.
“You can’t follow Coach because he’s one of the best ever. When it comes to public schools, I’ll put him up against anyone in the state of New Jersey. I don’t feel like I’m following him, but I feel like I’m carrying the flag. He developed my habits and developed a lot of things in me.
“The competitive side of me says to aim for the stars and embrace it. We don’t want to run from anything. I’ve been dealing with the pressure around basketball since I was 12, 13 years old. If you want to be good there’s going to be some pressure. My mother used to tell me that and she helped me deal with it at all levels. This is another step.”