By Terrance Turner
July 29, 2021 (Aug. 8, 2021)
“With the second pick in the 2021 NBA draft, the Houston Rockets select Jalen Green.”
With these words, Jalen Green made history as one of only three Filipino players to be drafted into the NBA. Green, a 6’6″, 178-pound shooting guard, was ranked No. 1 by ESPN in recruiting. Decked out in a glittery gray pinstriped suit, he made his way to the podium and shook hands with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
Green was born and raised in California. He grew up on the edge of an almond farm, according to ESPN, and learned to play basketball there. Green played ball at San Joaquin memorial High School in Fresno. He averaged 18 points and 9 rebounds his freshman year. He improved to 27.9 points and 7.7 rebounds per game as a sophomore. In his junior year, he averaged 30 points and 7.8 rebounds. He won his second consecutive Central Division Championship and broke a career scoring recored that had stood since 1971.
In his senior season, Green transferred to Prolific Prep in Napa, California. This time he averaged 31.5 points per game and helped his team win a national title. According to the Napa Valley Register, his team The Crew (31-3) defeated Our Savior Lutheran, 95-80, in the finale of the end-of-season tournament in March 2020. That won them the Grind Session Championship. Sports Illustrated named him All-American Player of the Year.
Despite getting offers from Memphis, Auburn, and Florida State, Green decided to forego college basketball. Instead, he signed a one-year, $500,000 deal with the NBA G-League’s Ignite, a developmental team. Green was the first player to sign with the team, which had oversight from the G League (the minor leagues of the NBA). Ignite was part of a developmental program “that will include professional coaching, top prospects and veteran players who will combine training and exhibition competitions,” according to ESPN writers Jonathan Givony and Adrian Wojnarowski.
“I think this is the best route to prepare myself,” Green said at the time. Now, he seems more than prepared for the big leagues. Green’s comments to the Houston Chronicle drip with confidence. “There’s a lot of talk about Cade Cunningham [who the Pistons took at No. 1] and other people … but I’m the best player,” the 19-year-old Green told GQ’s Tyler R. Tynes in a profile that published this week. “And I feel like nobody can do what I do. I show up every time the lights come on.”
In an introductory press conference, Green set lofty goals and assured the Rockets that they made the right choice picking him: “They’re going to say it’s a great choice, because the goals I have for myself, I plan on reaching them: Rookie of the Year, All-Star, All-Defense, max contract. We’re doing it big.”
UPDATE (Aug. 8, 2021): Green shined today in his first game as a Rocket. In the NBA Summer League, which brings together rookies, sophomores and G-League players, Green helped the Rockets beat the Charlotte Hornets 84-78. Green scored 23 points, including four three-pointers, and had 5 rebounds. A highlight video is embedded below.