By Tom Ballato
Hampton University, located in Hampton, Virginia, was founded in 1868. It is a private university and is a Historically Black College or University (HBCU). Their mission is to serve and educate the black community. This is something that Devin Green was taught about at a young age by his godparents, who raised him from fourteen years old. He would watch Hampton play North Carolina on television and started learning about African American colleges. When it came time to select a college to play for, Green ultimately chose Hampton.
HBCU Basketball Standout
Devin Green played at Hampton University from 2001-2005. He finished his career at Hampton with 1,757 points. Green said, ” I chose Hampton because they were the first school to offer me a full-ride scholarship.” He had offers from Miami, St. Joseph’s, and Notre Dame. “I was a late bloomer, by my junior and senior year (high school), I had a lot more offers. Hampton offered me a scholarship in my sophomore year. They came to all of my events, and there was a big trust factor.” Playing early on was important to Green, and the coaching staff was high on him playing as a freshman in college. The fit was mutual.
“I was blown away by the situation I was in.” -Devin Green
By the time Green graduated, he knew he had made the right choice. His goal at the end of it all was to go to the NBA, and the experience helped him by playing all four years. According to Green, he was on the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns draft boards. He worked out for the Phoenix Suns, Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers before the 2005 NBA Draft. Green went undrafted that year, but this did not stop him from reaching his goals.
When I asked Green about being overlooked coming from a small school, he replied, ” I wouldn’t say I was overlooked. I would say there was a lack of exposure in going to a smaller school. I played great in big games. My freshman year, I was on a college insider’s Freshman All American list. Everyone on that list played at some point in the NBA. I was always on the NBA radar, and scouts would come to my games.”
From Hampton Pirate to the LA Laker
During his tenure at Hampton, there was a coaching change between his freshman and sophomore year that affected Green from a statistical standpoint. Even though he went undrafted, Green said, “Hampton put me exactly where I was supposed to be.” Coming from Ohio, Green had the assistance of NBA players during his summer workouts. He grew up with Lebron James, and the former Milwaukee Buck, Michael Redd, was a mentor of his. His work over the summers helped him improve, and he eventually landed a deal to play for the Lakers.
Green’s time with the Lakers set the tone for his career from a work ethic and professional standpoint. “My improvement from college to after my first year in the NBA skyrocketed.” Green played under coach Phil Jackson and was surrounded by Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum, and Lamar Odom to name a few of his teammates. Green spoke highly of the Laker organization. “Being a Laker, in an organization with tradition and that is family oriented was amazing and I was surrounded by greats.” Green went on to talk about how old players (former Lakers) come back and want to be a part of the journey and process. “Magic Johnson and James Worthy were there, and Scotty Pippen was on the preseason coaching development staff.” Green’s time with the Lakers lasted only one season, but he learned so much about life and the game. This allowed him to add to his game. He had a high IQ for the game, and his time in Los Angeles only helped.
“All of these Hall of Fame guys helped and I will be able to give back to the next generation.”
Green had training camps with the Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, San Antonio Spurs and the New York Knicks in 2012, the last NBA team he played for. After the Lakers. Miami signed him to a partially guaranteed deal, but he didn’t end up with the team. All three of these destinations, he spent the summers and preseasons working with these teams. Green discussed that he played for great coaches and was surrounded by talent (Shaq, Dwayne Wade, Penny Hardaway, and Pat Riley in Miami. Kurt Rambis was the head coach for Minnesota and Greg Popovich in San Antonio) which was all great experience. After these stops, Green’s basketball career headed overseas.
The Overseas Professional Basketball Journey
When asked where he has played, Green laughed and said, “Where haven’t I played.” Green has made stops in Germany, Bulgaria, Italy, Greece, Venezuela, Belgium, China, Algeria with the national team, Ukraine, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Argentina, Mexico, and the NBA Developmental League (with three teams). He has had some good experiences and bad experiences overseas. His favorite spot was in China playing for the Shanghai Sharks. “It was an amazing experience. My head coach was my trainer prior to the draft. The strength and conditioning coach worked with the Rockets,” said Green. It was a familiar environment and worth ethic he was used to, and he enjoyed the city of Shanghai. “Yao Ming was the president of the team, and he brought that NBA mentality,” Green said. Ukraine was one of the toughest places where Green has played. “It was a cold, dark place, and they didn’t do a good job finding a solution to the barrier (translator). I had a bad experience, but at the end of the day, it’s not America.”
“We expect the American standard from people who aren’t American.”
Green just finished up his season in China and is enjoying his time off stateside. He averaged 27 ppg (points per game) and 10 rebounds at 36 years old. He plans to start training again soon and plans to continue playing in China this upcoming April.
Finding Passions Outside the Basketball Court
Green is also the founder of H3 Collection, which makes apparel inspired by HBCUs. When asked if he plans on coaching when his career is over, Green replied, “I plan to keep my options open.” He wants to mentor kids and go into the HBCUs and develop talent in sports and entertainment. A position where he can give hope to students attending small schools, a position he was in not too long ago.
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