When it comes to Mount Hebron High School basketball, Brad Rees has toiled in the shadows of success.
Fifteen years ago, Brad was the smart, scrappy sixth man on the Vikings' varsity team, "a down-and-dirty, garbage-type player" as he recalls. His younger brother, Cliff, would come along seven years later to grab headlines by setting a career scoring record in 1984 (it was broken three years later by Barry Young), the same year he led Hebron to a state title.
While Cliff was having his Hebron jersey retired and landing a basketball scholarship at Navy -- where he played with future NBA star center David Robinson -- Brad was keeping in touch with the game in quieter ways.
Brad, who had graduated from Georgetown University with a finance degree, was enjoying one of his favorite pastimes, a pickup game among former teammates and teachers at Hebron. One of those teachers happened to be Dave Greenberg, who had known Rees briefly atHebron several years before, and was already enjoying success as theVikings' girls basketball coach.
Greenberg and Rees hit it off from the start, both as friends and students of the game. Greenberg casually suggested that Rees give him a hand with the basketball team. Rees jumped at the chance.
Ten seasons, 200 victories, seven countychampionships and four state titles later, the Vikings and Greenbergare mentioned with the elite programs and coaches around the state. All along in the background again, Rees has been there -- filling therole of the unpaid, unheralded assistant.
"It's been a quick 10 years," says Rees, 31, who has packed his share of accomplishments into the past decade. "I never had any intention of getting into it (coaching). I never expected this."
After graduating from Hebron in 1977, Rees went to Georgetown, where he studied finance and also playedthree years of junior varsity basketball for Coach John Thompson. After graduating in 1981, Rees went on to earn a master's degree in business administration from Loyola in 1984, then passed his certified public accountant exam in 1987. Since then, he has worked as a financial analyst. He and his wife, Cathy, have a 2-year-old daughter, Abby.
"Besides seeing Cathy and Abby, this (basketball) is what I really look forward to," says Rees, who commutes to Hebron each day from his job in Montgomery County. "Every year I think it will be my last year, because of work or school or the kid, but it always seems to work out."
And no one is happier with the arrangement than Greenberg, who gives Rees a large slice of the credit for the Vikings' excellence over the years. Hebron is zeroing in on its seventh county title in the past eight seasons, and stands a good chance of winning its fifth state championship in six years.
"Brad's knowledge of the gameis so extensive. He could play or talk basketball forever," says Greenberg. "He sees things right away. He's an expert on the nuances of the game. He knows the right adjustments to make. I can count on one hand the disagreements we've had. I consider him a great resource.
One of the best parts of the program is the practices, said Greenberg.
"They're structured, and they're intense," he said. "The only way they can be at that level is with Brad there. He's great with the kids. He's a great role model. His presence makes our program 20 times better. There are no decisions I make that he's not part of."
Rees shies away from Greenberg's praise, instead giving the credit to Greenberg and his system. The system is anchored by the teaching of sound, man-to-man defense, is centered around a core of talented, year-round players and is based on those players' accepting defined roles.
"I think what I really add here is I like to interact with the kids. I like to think I make things more enjoyable for them," Rees says. "The kids are unbelievably supportive. It's real camaraderie.
"We do very basic things. We're team-oriented, system-oriented. As far as coaching goes, it's such an interactive process. Dave has such control over the program, but he's so open to suggestions. Here's a guy who has won five state championships in 12 years and still claims to know nothing about the game."
Rees learned plenty about the game in Indiana -- considered the basketball capital of the nation -- wherehe spent much of his childhood in the town of Kokomo. His family moved here during his sophomore year of high school. Brad was the first of four children to graduate from Hebron.
Cliff is the Rees brother the basketball fans think of first. He is also the Rees brother whom alumni and current Hebron students have in their thoughts the most these days. Cliff is a first lieutenant in the Marine Corps and is stationed in Saudi Arabia, where he's been for the past five months.
"Everyone knows Cliff. He's gotten more letters from here than he can return," says Brad. "He always has a way of coming out on top."
And in his own understated way, the other Rees has managed the same achievement at his old school. Brad says he can't envision himself coaching under any other circumstances.
"I could coach anywhere else,but it just wouldn't be the same," he says.