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Thursday, March 3, 2011
Homecoming for Brookline's Jeff Adrien

By Brendan Hall

BROOKLINE, Mass. -- Jeff Adrien touched down at Logan Airport 1:30 a.m. Thursday morning, and there was no jet lag from the west coast. Not when it's coming home to Boston.

"It's definitely great to be home, definitely not lagging," said the former Brookline High star and newly-minted Golden State Warrior this morning from inside the school's Schluntz Gymnasium, on the eve of Golden State's game with the Celtics tomorrow night at the TD Garden.

Adrien made the Warriors' final roster cut to start the season, but was sent to the D-League after 15 games to make room for point guard Acie Law. With Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Adrien dominated, averaging 18 points and 11 rebounds before getting called back to Golden State last week following the trade of Brandan Wright and Dan Gadzuric to the New Jersey Nets.

He was back at his alma mater this morning, speaking to a quarter-filled gymnasium of Brookline students for a question-and-answer session. Adrien, of course, led Brookline through one of its most successful runs in school history before moving on to a storied career at UConn, twice taking the Warriors to the Division 1 state finals (2002, 2004).

Anything was fair game over the nearly 45 minutes that Adrien spoke with students. His first questioner wasted no time cutting to the chase: is Monta Ellis a ball-hog? Adrien laughed it off, calling the Warriors' lightning-quick point guard "a tremendous athlete" and one of the league's best scorers.

Kobe or LeBron? Adrien chuckled and turned the question back on the student: "Who do you think is better?"

His first and only star-struck moment thus far? Passing by Michael Jordan in the hotel at the D-League All-Star game.

His biggest influence? His own mother.

"My mom worked very hard, I get my work ethic from her," Adrien said. "She kept grinding, kept putting food on the table."

After answering everyone's questions, Adrien then took part in an informal pickup game with current Brookline players Lake Barry, Zeev Gray-Mandell and freshman Elijah Rogers (the latter of whom was a Bay State Conference All-Star Selection this season). Adrien, wearing street clothes and low-tops, paced delicately but set up the 6-foot-4 Gray-Mandell for a big one-handed slam going to the hole.

Gray-Mandell called it the best moment of his high school career thus far.

"It's crazy. That was probably the best feeling I've ever had on a court," Gray-Mandell said. "That was something...It's pretty sick (seeing him), he's a legend here, and it's great that he comes back.

Meanwhile, Adrien struggled to describe the feeling of returning home to the gym where he first toiled under head coach Mark Fiedor.

"Man, words can't really explain how I feel right now," he smiled. "There's alot of new things I'm noticing right now...everything's good."

Adrien also admitted there "definitely" will be some nerves when he sets foot inside the Garden tonight, possibly for some quality minutes.

"It's definitely a different level, but I'll be ready to play," he said. "I'm excited."