COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Listed at 6-foot-6, five-star junior Jalen Green describes himself as a big guard.
“I would say I do almost anything,” Green said. “That’s why I say I’m a unicorn, because I can play any spot on the floor, I guard any spot on the floor, I’m just not afraid to step up and take charge when I need to.”
In his first official visit, a trip to Memphis in September, the San Joaquin High School (Fresno, Calif.) student got to see another big guard he could potentially exemplify on the court.
Penny Hardaway, the new head coach of Memphis, stands at 6-foot-7. Before injuries slowed him, Hardaway averaged 18.7 points, 6.2 assists and 4.9 rebounds over his first seven seasons in the NBA.
That was before Green was even born, but there are plenty of highlights of Hardaway stuffing the stat sheet old-school style that the 16-year-old tries to incorporate into his game.
“I don’t really break it down but I watch it and see how the play style was back then and then to now, and try to somehow put that into my game,” Green said.
Green has similar athletic capabilities that allow him to play and guard multiple positions. Goofing around at the beginning of the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team Minicamp in Colorado Springs on Friday, he blocked a player attempting a dunk and then tried to throw down a between-the-legs jam.
He was also one of the quicker players to adapt to the FIBA 3-point line, which is farther than the high school and college line, at the minicamp.
Green’s not even done growing.
“That’s what the doc says,” he said.
With his range of abilities, Green saw ways Memphis could help his development, even beyond Hardaway’s presence. Former NBA stars Mike Miller and Sam Mitchell are assistant coaches.
“(Hardaway is) one of the greatest players of all time, and you got Mike Miller, one of the best shooters — and Sam Mitchell too,” Green said.
Miller, who played for the Memphis Grizzlies for five seasons and won two NBA Championships with the Miami Heat, shot above 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from the 3-point line. He was only 3 percent away on free throws from having a career 50/40/80 average, something that only 77 players (including Miller) have done in a single season.
Mitchell, a 13-year NBA veteran who primarily played forward off the bench, was the head coach of the Toronto Raptors from 2004-09 and the interim Minnesota Timberwolves coach in 2015-16.
“I’m just trying to take everything they tell me, just absorb it like a sponge, and just take it home,” Green said.
Memphis is no lock, though; Green plans to visit Oregon and said he hopes to visit one more school.
Also to note: Green considered reclassifying to 2019, but isn’t yet sold on any program that has offered him.
“I was going to class up to 2019, but I might just stay now. I was thinking about it.… but I don’t know. I haven’t really made my decision on what college I really want to go to, so I’m just going to stay, wait it out, get better.”