Josh Green can appreciate the gravity of his basketball journey. After all, it has seen him move across worlds, in a manner unthinkable for most teenagers.
The native Australian’s pathway has seen him jettison New South Wales for Florida, where Green is currently a junior at IMG Academy, one of America’s top incubators for NBA prospects. NCAA scholarships will likely follow, preceding what Green, along with a buoyant Australian basketball community, hopes is a sustained NBA career.
With this mission at the forefront, Green’s expedition recently brought him to Los Angeles, where he represented Australia at the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders Global Camp.
The camp, an annual event held over All-Star Weekend, brings together some of the best teenage prospects in the world. It offers prospects a chance to show off, to validate reputations in front of a throng of NBA scouts, executives and media members. Green did just that. He was a standout performer, named to the tournament’s All-Star team and impressing a slew of basketball luminaries in the process.
In many ways, Basketball Without Borders was just another stepping stone for a young man who has dreams of one day, playing in the NBA. That perspective however, is probably too cynical a representation of the event’s meaning for Green.
A weekend spent in Los Angeles, surrounded by the NBA’s elite, facilitated something greater than simply boosting his ranking on a hypothetical draft board. There was a moment of reflection, appreciation for his parents and the journey they have undertaken since the Green family moved stateside.
“It’s a blessing,” Green told The Pick and Roll in Los Angeles, while also explaining his excitement at being in Los Angeles, during the NBA’s flagship weekend.
“It’s a big difference from where I was at [three or four years ago] to where I am today. I am really thankful for this opportunity. Very grateful to have parents that have given me the opportunities that I’ve had.”
Green’s latest opportunity was his biggest, and unequivocally, his most impressive to date. The 17-year-old was a leading figure across the three-day camp, with one NBA scout telling The Pick and Roll that Green was the best ‘pure wing’ in attendance. “He has been very impressive all weekend,” the NBA scout added.
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Green displayed the widely accepted fundamentals of his talent base – shooting, playing above the rim and a commitment to two-way basketball – although, it was the more subtle aspects that truly impressed those in attendance. One such example was his distribution skills.
During his final scrimmage for the weekend, Green controlled the offence with his passing. In a ten minute burst, he set up those around him with an array of impressive dimes that underscore his potential as a playmaking wing.
Green explained that an ability to distribute the basketball is one of his strengths, and something he has always had within his arsenal.
“It was important for me to implement [passing] into my game and I think it has helped out a lot,” Green said.
“I just really like getting my teammates involved into the game. I feel like that really helps us and gets the game flowing. I enjoy that.”
Green is currently seen as a consensus top 30 player in the Class of 2019 – he is the 21st ranked player according to ESPN, and the 27th by 247Sports – and has a bevy of college teams knocking on his door. He plays a position of significant need, both within the NBA and, if we are being nationalistic, the Australian Boomers. With interest peaking from every level of the basketball community, Basketball Without Borders was a chance to learn within NBA’s equivalent of a classroom setting.
“It was awesome,” Green said of the event. “You learn a lot from playing with all the kids around the world. It was a really great experience.”
Being in Los Angeles allowed Green to share common ground with Ben Simmons. The pair have exchanged moments of social media appreciation, and Green explained that Simmons offers priceless tutelage in private.
“He helps me out and gives me some advice so that’s cool,” Green said. “He just tells me to play the game and enjoy it; have fun with everything.”
Simmons has previously explained the pride he takes in leading the next generation of Australian basketballers, even mentioning Green by name in a recent interview with Fox Sports.com.au. It was a message he reinforced during his media availability before the Rising Stars Challenge. “It means a lot to be a face and an inspiration to a lot of Australian kids,” Simmons said.
Green, who has gained more notoriety than all Australian prospects who have followed Simmons, admits the Philadelphia 76ers rookie is a point of inspiration.
“I think he has motivated everybody in Australia,” Green explained. “It shows that there is always a chance, no matter where you are in the world. You just need to make the most of every opportunity you have.”
Green remains a long way away from joining Simmons in the NBA, as he will not be NBA draft eligible until 2020.
With Basketball Without Boarders now in the rear-view mirror, Green’s concentration returns to IMG Academy. He is focused on improving his game, and can already cite numerous improvements since joining the high school circuit.
“I have put on more size since the summer,” Green said. “I’m at 200 pounds now so that has helped me out a lot.
“My versatility, I feel like that has always been a big part of my game. At IMG, I have had to change positions and move from the one man to the four man, so I feel that [versatility] has helped me out a lot.”
Green admits there has been plenty of attention from schools within the NCAA system, but he is yet to make a decision on which college he will attend. Blueblood programs such as Kansas, UCLA, Indiana and Arizona are all reported to have offered Green a full scholarship.
“Right now, we are finishing off our high school season,” Green said. “So I’m sure I’m going to start sitting down and really thinking about colleges I would like to attend. It will come eventually, but nothing coming soon.”
On the back of a fruitful weekend in Los Angeles, Josh Green continues to impress and his march to the NBA remains on track.