LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky baseball assistant coach Brian Green, who spent six years as the offensive coordinator for the Wildcats, has been tabbed the new head coach at his alma mater, New Mexico State, it was announced by NMSU on Thursday afternoon.
A native of Temecula, Calif., Green and his wife, Becki, return to their alma mater, where Green received his business management degree in 1995 after playing for the Aggies in 1994 and serving as an assistant coach on the 1995 squad. Green has spent all six years of Gary Henderson’s time as head coach at Kentucky as UK’s offensive coordinator, also serving as the infield defense and base running coach.
During his time as an assistant coach, Green spent four years at UCLA, serving as recruiting coordinator and recruiting the bulk of the Bruins recent national championship, before joining Henderson’s staff in 2009. Before UCLA, Green spent two years at Hawaii and a season each at Oregon State and San Diego, also working a season at Chapman University, Cal Poly-Pomona, Riverside Community College and NMSU.
Green’s 2014 offense was the best in the nation leading all BCS conferences in runs, homers, on-base and slugging percentage and scoring. His dynamic offensive approach led the Southeastern Conference in eight categories, ranking among the top three in the SEC in 10 of 13 categories. In the SEC stats, UK finished with a 36-point advantage in slugging, a 29-point margin in on-base percentage, 67 more runs and RBI, and 18 more homers than the next closest team. UK’s .844 OPS was 62 points higher than the second-place team.
The 2014 season was highlighted by Green’s work with one of the best players in the history of college baseball, junior two-way star AJ Reed. Reed went from a lightly recruited left-handed pitcher/first baseman out of Terre Haute, Ind., into a superstar talent and the first pick of the second round by the Houston Astros in the 2014 MLB Draft. Reed was named the Dick Howser Trophy Award winner, the Baseball America College Player of the Year, Collegiate Baseball’s Player of the Year and the American Baseball Coaches Association National Player of the Year. The first national player of the year in Kentucky history, Reed also won the 2014 John Olerud Award, given to the nation’s top two-way player. In addition, Reed was named SEC Player of the Year by the conference coaches and SEC Male Athlete of the Year by the league athletics directors.
Green has also help transform the Kentucky offensive attack into a proving ground for professional baseball, as a school-record 23 position players have been drafted or signed a pro contract in his time at UK, including four position player draftees in 2014.
In addition to Reed, 2014 centerfielder Austin Cousino went in the third round to the Seattle Mariners. Reed and Cousino marked the highest drafted position player duo in program history. Third baseman Max Kuhn, who had three at-bats as a freshman, and hit under .250 as a sophomore, was a 13th round pick in the draft by the Athletics. Kuhn finished 2014 leading the SEC and all BCS conferences in runs scored, becoming the first UK player to lead in the SEC in runs since Billy White in 1988.
Green’s shortstop at UCLA, Brandon Crawford, has solidified himself as one of the best young shortstops in the big leagues while playing with the 2012 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants. Overall, 24 position players since 2004 – at UK and UCLA – improved their draft stock under Green’s guidance.
During his time at Kentucky, Green helped Henderson and fellow UK assistant Brad Bohannon welcome the best classes in program history, while also shining as UCLA’s recruiting coordinator that beefed up the roster for the Bruins national title run.
In his first season, Green helped UK secure the fourth-best recruiting class in the nation, according to Baseball America, a new Kentucky record. UK then ranked No. 6 in 2010, No. 16 in 2011, No. 25 in 2012 – a class that featured Reed, Cousino and righty Chandler Shepherd – No. 11 in 2013 and No. 25 in 2014.
In his two seasons as the UCLA recruiting coordinator, Green helped secure the No. 13 and No. 7 best recruiting classes in the nation in the fall of 2006 and fall of 2007, respectively, as ranked by Baseball America. Green also played a large role in assisting UCLA land the No. 5 ranked recruiting class in 2005.
QUOTING UK GREAT CHAD WRIGHT
On his relationship with coach Brian Green …
“I came in and dreamed of playing here. When I got here I had a lot to prove. With the help of coach Green, we spent a ton of time in the cages and he helped push me to get better every day to try to make it to the next level. He is one of those guys that is easy to talk to and he really bonds with his players really well. With that kind of personality you can grow really close to him. He really helps you make the adjustment easier from high school to college. From all the pro guys that I have talked to, they are really envious of the relationship we have with coach Green. He is one of the guys.”
On how Green’s offense can help showcase athletic players talents …
“Obviously when you are a base stealer and someone who gets on base and scores a lot of runs, you want to play for that type of offense. And coach Green’s offense played right into my game. He let us run when we wanted to and he had faith in us to do the right things on the bases at the right time. When he shows that confidence in you, it helps you gain confidence in yourself. That was key for me throughout my time at Kentucky.”
QUOTING MLB STAR BRANDON CRAWFORD
NOTE: During his time as the recruiting coordinator, hitting and infield coach at UCLA (2005-08), Brian Green recruited and coached All-American shortstop Brandon Crawford. Crawford helped lead the San Francisco Giants to the World Series Title in 2012 with clutch hitting and emerged as one of the top defensive shortstops in baseball.
On his relationship with coach Green during the recruiting process at UCLA …
“I was getting recruited by a lot of schools. UCLA was up there, along with a couple others. Greeny was someone that I liked because he was so easy to talk to. I could just tell after talking with him a few times that I was going to be able to get along with him. I didn’t know much about his experience at that time, but I could just tell that he was someone I could get along with as a coach and be friends with long after he was my coach, which we still are.”
On the importance of developing defensively in college …
“Defense was always fun for me. In high school, I always loved taking ground balls and I was pretty good defensively but going to UCLA, I wanted to stay at shortstop. I was getting bigger and I wanted to stay at shortstop and still be able to keep my range and make plays. Greeny helped a lot with my footwork. That was the first time I had ever really heard about rhythm in the infield and he helped me out that way a lot.”
On Green’s ability to help his develop a pitch-by-pitch focus defensively …
“I have come a long ways. I don’t think I was ever an up and down player. I would try my best to take it pitch by pitch but Greeny really harped on that while we were at UCLA. He said that ‘you can’t worry about the pitch before, the at bat before or the error you made earlier that inning. You have to focus on the next pitch and figure out a way to wipe off whatever happened before and focus on the next pitch,’ and I have been able to take that to the big league level.”
On his short-game during college and reaping the rewards with a clutch bunt in the World Series …
“I think that was just another weapon that I can use and anyone can use if you get good at it. It doesn’t even matter how fast you are if you can put it down where you want you can get a base hit. It is huge for anybody. I was a decent bunter in high school and I did bunt a lot at UCLA. A lot of them were for hits and a lot of them were on my own. I ended up getting a lot of sacrifices my junior year, which I kind of give coach Green a hard time about, but obviously it was huge. It was something I worked on a lot in college and I had to use it in one of the biggest at bats of my career in the World Series and I got it down.”
On Green’s personality as a coach and ability to relate to young, talented players …
“You just feel comfortable with him as a player. You can go up and talk to him about anything. It may not be baseball related. He is just an easy guy to get along with and that is what you want in a coach. You don’t want to be scared to go talk to them you want to have a conversation with them and be buddies with them afterwards.”
QUOTING NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE YEAR AJ REED
“BG has been a great influence on my baseball career. From the moment I stepped onto campus, he was committed to doing everything in his power to make me a better man and baseball player. As a freshman, BG helped ease me into college baseball and helped me take a step towards pro baseball as a sophomore. After my sophomore season didn’t go as well as I, or our team, could have hoped, BG never gave up on me and just went to work to help myself and our team reach its potential. In the offseason before my junior year, BG really emphasized improving my opposite-field and two-strike approaches which helped me take my game to another level. A lot of the credit for the progress I made as a junior can go to BG and his constant dedication to make me a better player. And off the field, BG is always going to be a close friend and someone I can always reach out to for advice.”
QUOTING UK STAR AUSTIN COUSINO
“Coach Green is one of the biggest reasons for the development of my baseball career at Kentucky. He understood and worked personally with each player and myself on their swing, defense and their mental approach to the game. The knowledge he brought to the field helped us to the most successful three years in Kentucky baseball. His care for me away from field is what is the most special and unique part of our relationship. I know I can count on him to always be there for me.”
Daughter: Emily Rae (10), Zoe Addison (4)
High School: Temecula Valley (Calif.)
College: New Mexico St., 1995 (business management)
Graduate: National University (education)
1991-92: Riverside CC
1993: Chapman University (Calif.)
1994-95: New Mexico State
1995: New Mexico State, student assistant
1996: Riverside CC, assistant coach
1997-98: Cal Poly-Pomona, assistant coach
1999-00: Chapman University, assistant coach
2001: Oregon State, assistant coach
2002: San Diego, assistant coach
2003-04: Hawaii, assistant coach
2005-08: UCLA, assistant coach
2009-14: Kentucky, assistant coach
2015: New Mexico State, head coach