Men’s college basketball: Hoop dreams
One day 17 years ago, Jerry Green’s dad brought something home that
would change his life forever.
It would consume much of Green’s time, shape his future in some ways
and be the center of some special memories.
It was not anything really uncommon, just a basketball backboard and
rim. Green was 4 when his dad brought the goal home. The neighbors helped
them set it up on the roof at the Green’s Pomona residence.
“Ever since then, I loved playing the game,” said Green, now a senior
on the UC Irvine men’s basketball team. “I started playing with my older
brother (Ray). He used to beat me up and rough me up. I used to get mad
and throw the ball at him, but he really got me better by getting
physical with me.”
Sometimes the two would play until as late as 2 a.m. Big brother would
show little brother the finer points of the game day in and day out.
“He really took his time with me,” Green said. “He was eight years
older than me and had the patience to work with his little brother. I
love him for that.”
Green not only played basketball in the driveway of his home, he
watched the sport on television. Like many youngsters, his idol was
Michael Jordan. Green would watch tapes of Jordan and then go out onto
the driveway and try to imitate what he had seen.
He had plenty of people to practice his moves on. In addition to his
big brother, Green played with his other brother Jerod, their cousins and
friends. The time spent on the court helped Green develop as a player and
as a person.
“Basketball is not only a sport,” Green said. “It also makes you more
mature and teaches you about life and teamwork. You start to create
friendships. It’s not just a sport. It’s life. I’ve got friends all over
These days, Green does not spend as much time at the old driveway in
Pomona. He finds himself playing basketball mostly in Crawford Hall or
the Bren Events Center at UCI.
The 6-foot-3 guard helped lead the Anteaters to a 25-5 overall record
last year and the Big West Conference title.
Green led the Anteaters in scoring and assists in his first three
seasons at UCI. Last season, he averaged 19 points and 4.8 rebounds per
game and was the Big West Player of the Year.
His family attends all of the Anteaters’ home games, as well as those
at other Southern California schools.
Green’s big brothers still give him pointers after games.
“If they saw something I could do better, they’ll tell me,” Green
said. “They still throw in their two cents. They are always looking out
for me. They also compliment me for what I do well.”
Green is always striving to improve his game. He lifts weights and
runs to keep in shape. He even signed up for aerobics once to improve his
“I didn’t tell my teammates I did aerobics, but it did (help) my
footwork.” Green said. “I was the only guy in there. It felt a little
Green’s dedication to staying in shape may have contributed to making
him less prone to injury. In a sport that is hard on the knees and
ankles, he has only suffered minor ankle sprains throughout his
“God has really blessed me,” Green said. “The three years I have been
here, I haven’t had any major injuries. That’s important. To be
successful you have got to stay healthy.”
Staying healthy is especially critical to Green during this period of
his young basketball career. He has three goals this season: 1) Be a team
leader; 2) Be an All-American; 3) Be a first-round pick in the next NBA
Green made himself eligible for the draft last summer, but was not
picked and returned to UCI.
“Ever since I was growing up watching draft day, watching guys get
picked, hugging their moms, putting on the hat -- it’s something I dream
about all the time,” Green said. “It would be a blessing to be drafted
It very well could be Green on television hugging his mom and
adjusting his cap at next year’s NBA’s draft.
Fast forward 10 years from then and Green can picture what his life
will be like. He said he hopes his dream of playing professional
basketball will have come true. He thinks he’ll be married by then, he
said, with two kids.
And maybe he’ll have his own house with a driveway and of course, a
backboard and rim for playing basketball.
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