Green, Under the Radar, Is Flying High
Thursday, June 28, 2007
NEW YORK, June 27 -- A half-dozen top NBA prospects paused inside the lobby of a Manhattan hotel on Wednesday afternoon. They needed to cross West 43rd Street to board a bus that would take them to John Jay College for an "NBA Cares" basketball clinic, but standing in their way -- just outside the glass doors -- was a small crowd of fans clutching photos and basketballs and pens. None of the players wanted to be first.
Jeff Green soon took charge. The Georgetown star marched out of the hotel, with the rest of the players trailing behind and fans swarming around them.
"They were scared to come out first, but I knew I wasn't going to get bum-rushed," Green said. "With Corey [Brewer], Al [Horford], Rock Star Joakim [Noah] and Kevin [Durant] around you? I just walk through and all the fans go to them. They just think I'm some other fan or their bodyguard."
Green is clearly understating his appeal and recognition. He, after all, was the Big East Conference player of the year and one of the stars of the NCAA tournament, leading the Hoyas to the Final Four. On Thursday night, he will likely be among the first 10 players chosen in the NBA draft.
But, indeed, there were times Wednesday when Green seemed to slide into the background. At the midafternoon media session in a stuffy hotel ballroom, a cameraman swiped a chair from Green's table so he could stand on it and shoot video of Brewer. Reporters lined up three- and four-deep to get a chance to ask questions of Yi Jianlian, the mysterious Chinese forward. Just two reporters were waiting for Green when he arrived.
The affable Green didn't mind. More reporters came to his table, and he smiled and laughed as he answered questions for 25 minutes. At Georgetown, he often deflected questions about himself. But Wednesday, he was comfortable analyzing his game and talking about what he would bring to an NBA team.
"It's funny to get all these questions about myself," Green said. "I've accomplished a lot and I have the right to talk about myself a little bit, now that I'm out of the system. All the hard work I've put in, I deserve some credit. But I had guys at Georgetown who helped me get to the point where I'm at, so that's why I gave them more credit because they helped me get to this point."
The 6-foot-9 Green says that he doesn't know where he'll end up, and he's not sure if teams project him to be more of a small forward or power forward. Over the past month, he worked out for Chicago, Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Boston at Georgetown, and traveled to workouts in Minnesota and Phoenix. He worked out for the Suns, who are rumored to be trying to trade into the lottery, on Tuesday with Noah and Brewer, the first time that Green went head-to-head against other prospects during this process.
Green and Brewer, who have become friends, are considered to be among the most versatile and well-rounded players in the draft.
Green -- who averaged 14.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists as a junior -- wrestled with his decision to leave Georgetown, but is clearly enjoying himself this week. Being invited to New York as one of the top 15 prospects "is a dream come true," and going back to Madison Square Garden -- where the Hoyas won the Big East tournament three months ago -- brings up good memories.
"Hopefully this will be the same result," he said. "Another great outcome."
Green is surrounded by family and friends: His mother, father, stepfather, sister, brother-in-law, aunt, uncle and best friend from home are all here. He also wanted to bring along Jonathan Wallace and Tyler Crawford -- two of his former Georgetown teammates and closest friends -- but the rising Hoya seniors had to remain on campus for summer school. On Thursday night, John Thompson III and agent David Falk will join Green in the green room, along with Green's parents and sister.
He has his wardrobe all planned out; he has promised something simple, but nice. Green, who was one of only three players on Wednesday to wear a tie during the media session, is accustomed to dressing up after spending three years at Georgetown, where the Hoyas are required to be in suits whenever they are traveling in public as a group. Green says that he was the best-dressed Hoya "hands down," and Brewer proclaimed him to be "the smoothest dresser in the draft."
Green owns three suits, but has approximately 75 ties. He bought a new one to wear Thursday night.
Said Green, "It's a new beginning."