GREENFIELD — There were a lot of unanswered questions prior to the Greenfield-Central 2023-24 boys basketball season.

Graduation saw six players leave from a team that set a record for victories in a 21-2 season.

Star guard Dylan Moles was among the graduates. He scored 1,460 points during his four-year career and is the all-time leader in 3-point field goals with 194.

Head coach Luke Meredith had a very talented junior in Braylon Mullins returning, but was the quiet 6-5 guard ready to be the man behind the wheel of the Cougars basketball team?

The answer was an emphatic, ‘Yes!’

“There were flashes of it last year when we were playing in [our summer league] against some of the top teams like Ben Davis, Attucks, and he would dominate,” Meredith said. “There were flashes of it then, but I was really nervous heading into the year because I didn’t know what to expect, losing so much to graduation, and Dylan Moles had to hand the keys to Braylon Mullins.”

To add to the question was the discovery of a stress fracture in Mullins’ back. Doctors said it wouldn’t get worse from playing, but it would only get better with rest.

“Our first game against Beech Grove I didn’t know if he was going to be able to play in the game,” Meredith said. “He had the back injury that he dealt with all year, which ultimately kept him from playing much in the [sectional championship] game. The first game he’s got the TENS unit, getting stretched out. I didn’t know if I would be able to play him 20 minutes or 15 minutes and he comes out and in the first quarter he reels off 12 straight points and I was like, ‘OK, I think he’s feeling pretty good.’”

That was the way the season went for the Daily Reporter’s Hancock County Player of the Year.

Mullins, even with issues he was dealing with in his back, was the next star for Greenfield-Central’s boys basketball team.

Moles handed over the keys and Mullins got in the driver’s seat and hit the gas.

Mullins averaged 25 points per game, 6.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 3.2 steals per game and helped lead G-C to an even better season than they had in 2023-24. The Cougars went 24-1. They were undefeated (22-0) in the regular season before losing with a hobbled Mullins in the sectional final to a talented New Palestine squad.

He shot 56 percent from the field, 83 percent from the free-throw line and made 61 3-pointers. He was sixth in the state in scoring and tied for 17th in steals per game.

His accolades included being named an Indiana Junior All-Star, All-Hoosier Heritage Conference and an Indiana Basketball Coaches Association All-State “Supreme 15” underclassmen.

Through it all, beginning with his fabulous summer, Mullins has NCAA Division-I basketball offers from Indiana, Notre Dame, Iowa, Michigan, Virginia Tech among others. Purdue has shown interest, too, but currently does not have a scholarship available to offer.

It was quite a year.

“That transition from sophomore to junior year, taking the leadership step and playing the role that Dylan Moles played my sophomore year, I felt during the summer it was a little bit of a struggle, but I learned and fit myself into it,” Mullins said. “Throughout the year I didn’t know what would happen with the back injury. I went through it and I tried to succeed as much as I could throughout the year and I felt like that’s what we did. It was an unbelievable year. It didn’t finish the way I wanted it to. There’s one more year and I feel like this year is the year.”

Back spasms for the sectional championship — the Cougars third game in four days —was the only game where the team, its fans and opponents didn’t see the best of Mullins in the biggest of games.

In a regular-season meeting against county and conference rival New Palestine, a 58-54 Cougar win, Mullins scored 27 points, including 15 of 17 from the free-throw line. The next morning in one of the state’s largest showcase events, the Forum Tip-Off Classic at Southport Fieldhouse, and with little rest for his ailing back, he scored, at the time, a season-high 31 points, including 11 of 15 from the field, in a victory over Southport.

His next season-high came against another county and conference rival, Mt. Vernon. In a 64-51 G-C win, Mullins scored 39, including 22 in the second-half when the Cougars turned a five-point halftime lead into a comfortable double-figure victory.

In just three quarters of play in a win over yet another county foe, Eastern Hancock, Mullins scored 44 points. He had 31 at halftime in a 64-31 victory. He made eight 3-pointers.

The night of nights came just less than two weeks later. At Pendleton Heights, another big conference rival, Mullins had the game of the year.

In front of a packed gymnasium and one of the team’s biggest challenges to the Cougars undefeated regular season, Mullins scored 51 points in a 74-72 double-overtime victory. He scored 29 points in the fourth quarter and overtimes and had 41 points in the second half, which included the game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer to win the game.

“It was crazy,” Mullins described of his game and the big conference win in Pendleton. “The first half was a slow start, I think we were losing and I may have had 10 points. I had somebody face-guard me the whole game and I think that was their whole gameplan to have one guy face-guard me and wear me down. I think he fouled out in the third quarter and I took a step from there and I was just trying to get the lead back.

“Going into the fourth quarter Meredith was calling plays for me and I kept scoring the ball. I felt like I was hot at the time. When that last shot went up I knew it was going to go in because I’d been making it all night.”

“There were times throughout the course of the year I was like, ‘Just don’t mess this up, Luke. Give the ball to your best player and let him make plays,’” Meredith said. “That’s what we did down the stretch at Pendleton Heights. I’d look at my card and most of [the plays] are for Braylon anyway, but ultimately give the ball to him and let him make a play or when they double let him make a play for others. That’s what he does better than most other guys that are in his position that are this good and have this many offers.”

Mullins gained confidence throughout the summer leading up to his junior season. It may have first started playing in last year’s Indiana All-Stars “Futures Game” where against other top underclassmen in the state, he was his team’s leading scorer.

He played well with the Cougars during the summer and on his Indiana Elite AAU team and had the opportunity to play against some professional players in events organized by Kyle Guy, the former Indiana Mr. Basketball who led Virginia to a national championship and is now playing professionally overseas.

Mullins said his game and confidence grew when he was playing well and playing well against top competition.

“After the June basketball [league] and playing “the guy” for our team [I was seeing my game improve], but playing with the pros in early August and playing against pros in a league up at PAC (Pacers Athletic Center) and going against guys who played professionally, that showed I can play against anybody. I did great in that, that’s when I knew I needed to make that (next) step.”

Mullins took that next step in leading the Cougars to a special season, but he has hopes of taking it further in the future.

Meredith has no doubt he can do it.

“He doesn’t play for stats, he only plays for winning,” Meredith said. “He’s such a quiet kid, but he has this ferocity out on the court where he is the best player on the court and, when he gets going, there is nobody better in the state of Indiana.