Josh Green on chasing dreams, being a Boomer and the Tokyo Olympics

Credit: Mike Christy, Arizona Athletics

Josh Green’s basketball journey has been seen him travel from Sydney to North America, where his NBA dream awaits.

The Sydney native’s pathway has seen him jettison New South Wales for Florida, where Green was a standout on the AAU circuit with IMG Academy. After leading IMG to their first national championship in April, Green graduated from high school and was forced to move on again.

Green is now a member of the Arizona Wildcats. The university’s campus in Tucson, a regional hub in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert, is the 18 year old’s home for the upcoming basketball season. If everything goes to plan, Green will be selected in June’s 2019 NBA draft. He will be absorbed into a franchise and allocated yet another city to call home.

The perpetual movement, while confronting to many, is a fact of life for those with dreams of making professional basketball their career. It is an unmistakable reality for young Australians with an international sporting prophesy, just as Green did at a young age.

Green was forced to grow up in a foreign country, away from the infrastructure that guided his early years. He has had more home addresses at 18, than many do in an entire lifetime. Despite his transient lifestyle, Green leaves zero doubt over where he truly calls home. There is no questioning the location that fuels the rise of his basketball career.

“Whatever I do, I always want to make sure that I am representing Australia to the fullest,” Green told The Pick and Roll. “That is my number one goal. I don’t want anything other than to be positive with where I come from and put a positive perspective for a lot of kids coming up.”

Green has previously spoken on the inspiration that Ben Simmons has provided. Not just for Green himself, but for everybody in Australia. Simmons, just as Luc Longley and Andrew Bogut did before him, raised the bar for young Australian males. The Philadelphia 76ers All-Star has become a mentor for Green, as he looks to emulate Simmons’ elevation within global basketball.

As Green begins his own NCAA career, he is in position to inspire the next generation of Australian athletes that will follow in his footsteps.

“The biggest thing for me, is just providing a message to the younger kids that anything is possible,” Green said. “If I asked myself four or five years ago if I would ever be playing at Arizona, I would think it is a crazy dream. No matter what the dream is, and no matter what the sport is, I want to inspire as lot of Australian kids to just do what they want to do and pursue what they have.

“It is an amazing feeling knowing that the country is behind you and they have 100% faith in you. It is definitely a surreal feeling and I am so grateful to have a country like Australia behind [me].”

Green is yet to make his Boomers debut, although he has already experienced the thrill that comes from competing in a jersey that bears the name of his homeland. Green participated in the Nike Hoops Summit in April and was the only Australian selected to the 2019 event. As a global showcase for teenage basketball prospects, the event pits a team of American players against a roster of international prospects. It is an annual coming out party for the basketball superstars of tomorrow.

For Green, the honour of representing his nation in front of the global basketball intelligentsia facilitated a feeling of pride that transcended the importance of the event.

“The Hoops Summit showed me how much Australia means to me,” Green explained. “I tore my labrum in the Nike Hoops Summit game and probably should have sat out. At the same time, I had Australia on the front of my jersey and there was no other kid from Australia in the game so I wanted to make sure I was representing Australia. No matter how bad or how I did in the game, I wanted to make sure I did the right thing for Australia. It was more of a pride thing for me.”

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are right around the corner, and Green has reinforced his commitment to the Boomers program. Green’s focus is rightfully placed on the upcoming season with Arizona. With so much more change headed his way in 2020, Green isn’t allowing himself to dwell on the prospect of making his Olympics debut as a teenager. The idea certainly intrigues him, as Green is infinitely excited about what the young generation of Boomers can accomplish, but there is much work to be done before the Olympics take centre stage in July.

“I would love to represent Australia, especially at such a young age,” Green said. “I feel like we have a lot of young and upcoming talent in Australia and I feel like it would be an amazing opportunity.

“If the opportunity was to present itself, it is definitely something I would want to do. Playing at the Olympics at 19 years old, there aren’t many opportunities like that. If the opportunity comes up, I will look more into it but for now, I am just focusing on the college season and trying to win for Arizona.”

Josh Green has long been spoken of as Australia’s next basketball superstar. Much work is required to fulfil that destiny on the hardwood, and yet, the 18 year old has already achieved something that extends beyond the basketball court. He is already an Australian athlete representing his homeland on the biggest stage.

He is an Australian, inspiring those he left behind to dream.