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Men’s college basketball: Hoop dreams

Amara Aguilar

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

through basketball.”

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

footwork.

“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

weird.”

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

basketball career.

“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

draft.

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

next summer.”

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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